BENGALS (8-6) @ STEELERS (7-7)
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Odds: Pittsburgh -3.5
What’s on the Line?: The Steelers and Bengals both control their playoff destiny. A win by Cincinnati eliminates Pittsburgh from playoff contention and keeps them in the hunt for the AFC North Title and the No. 4 spot in the conference. The Bengals have played 29 seasons without back to back playoff seasons. That can change today. Meanwhile, for the Steelers, if they take care of business at home today and next week at home vs Cleveland, they are heading to the playoffs.
Stat that Stands Out!:The Bengals have a plus-17 turnover differential over the Steelers. Cinncinati has a +3 turnover differential, while Pittsburgh has an awful -14 mark.
Pittsburgh wins If…….LaMarr Woodley breaks out with a monster game being a disruptive force from the edge and resembles his former pro bowl self.
Rashard Mendenhall showing no remorse for actions this week and not even apologizing to his teammates, won’t impact Mike Tomlin’s decision to play him today in a must-win game. Per Josina Anderson of ESPN, Mendenhall has been informed that he will be active, although his role is not yet defined. While I’m not too fond of Mendenhall as a person, I’ve been advocating for weeks that he needs to get back into the lineup as he is the Steelers best running back, only home run threat, and in a must-win situation, you need your best players on the field.
Will we see Plaxico Burress today? Most likely not…… Ben Roethlisberger frustrations with Todd Haley is said to have started before the Dallas game where following the Chargers game Roethlisberger is said to have been advocating to Haley and Mike Tomlin for Burress to see his role increase in certain situations, team sources said.
The result was Haley not making Burress a part of the game plan vs Dallas (Burress was inactive) , and dressing five wide receivers is something Haley and Tomlin are not fans of in this current offese. After Jerricho Cotchery having a good showing vs Dallas, it would be a surprise if Burress dresses but Tomlin needs to find a way to get him in the lineup.
Inactive Watch: The key name to watch for the Steelers is CB Keenan Lewis. Despite being listed as probable, word around the team is Lewis would test out his knee in pregame warmup’s than a decision will be made. The feeling has been that Lewis will dress but it remains to be seen whether he will be much of a factor as he’s not 100%. With no pass rush and a banged up secondary, Bengals could have a big day in the air.
Prediction Time: 24-20 Bengals – I see the Bengals coming to Pittsburgh and ending Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes. I don’t like the matchups for Pittsburgh in two critical areas Bengals D-Line vs Steelers O-line and Bengals WR’s vs Steelers secondary….However, the way this Steelers season has gone, the Steelers will win today than suffer a devastating loss at home next week Cleveland.