Things are looking good for the Cincinnati Bengals. Following the bye week in week 12, the Bengals have brushed off not one, but two playoff prospects, including one team, the Indianapolis Colts, who have won the AFC South division title and are already on their way to the play offs with three games to go.
Now the Bengals have the AFC North title within their grasp. In Sunday’s Prime Time game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bengals could potentially be three games ahead of the second play Baltimore Ravens and if the Ravens struggle against a decent Detroit Lions team who are playing at home, the Bengals will have the title in the bag, with two games left in the season.
In fact, the Bengals are doing so well in the AFC at the moment, that a win tonight will guarantee them at least the wild card spot in the playoffs, no matter what happens in the coming weeks.
The Bengals are feeling on could nine about this I’m sure, but the Steelers will be looking to do their best to make sure this doesn’t happen.
After a shaky start to the season, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finally began to find his groove as the o-line began to gel and keep even the toughest defensive lines out including the Buffalo Bills who currently top the sacks list with 44 sacks, to only three sacks in a convincing 23-10 win.
Having said that, the Steelers are currently on a two game losing streak. After going three wins out of three, the Steelers have not been able to pull the trigger the last two weeks. A last minute attempt from Antonio Brown nearly gained the Steelers a touchdown on a lateral as the clock ran out and another lost to the Ravens has given them some cause for concern, even though they are at home this week.
The Bengals defense have been on top form all season long and although did not manage to rack up a single sack or turnover last week, managed to hold the Colts to just 74 passing yards in the entire first half of their meeting just a week ago so are proving week in week out that it doesn’t matter who the opponent is, they’re going to have a lot of trouble moving the ball. The Bengals defense will look to pick their game back up after their turnover-less week last week and will look to come back against a division rival.
The Bengals offense, on the other hand have been gelling better over the last few weeks than they have done since ’09. Passing for 275 yards and three touchdowns as well as running in for another touchdown, AFC Offensive Player of the Week for a second week this season, Andy Dalton is looking confident and if the Bengals can find the perfect combination of running and passing as they did last week, Dalton will have little trouble moving the ball against this otherwise tough passing defense.
The big issue for Dalton this season has been the interceptions, but last week, for the first time since week seven, he managed to keep the ball out of the hands of the defensive opposition and all signs look good for him to do it again this week against a Steelers team who are tied for 27th in interceptions, only managing 8 this season.
The running back duo of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard will look once again to be the center of this offense as they go up against the 23rd ranked rushing defense who give up an average of 120.2 yards and have given up 7th highest rushing touchdowns this season – 14. Last week, the duo managed to perfectly blend their short yardage conversions with great down-field runs to combine for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Look for them to be strong again this week.
With the AFC North Title just within their reach and a divisional rival to get past first, there really is everything to play for and in this match up, you never know what’s going to happen.
Simon Greene – Cincinnati Bengals Team Journalist for the Spot. Be sure to follow Simon on Twitter @simongreene88