Who’s going to win today? Let’s take a look around the league to see who expects out beloved Bengals to win today.
My prediction: 24-20 Bengals
- The Bengals prepare well and don’t make any mistakes. Instead, it’s the Steelers who make the mistakes today, with one or two costly turnovers. A lot of focus has been on rookie QB Andy Dalton facing Steelers Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau‘s exotic zone blitzes, but Dalton faced many crazy blitzes against his own TCU defense in college, and Dalton is no ordinary rookie. Additionally, veteran backup QB Bruce Gradkowski had faced the Steelers three times, and will have plenty of advice to pass on to his young student Dalton. LB Rey Maualuga will come back hungry after missing his last three games with an ankle injury. And, the defensive line is better than it’s ever been in the past few years, even without Carlos Dunlap. Roethlisberger hasn’t faced a truly legitimate Bengals D-line in a long time.
Cincinnati Enquirer’s Joe Reedy: 20-17 Bengals
- The much-anticipated division run begins this week with one of the top games of the week. With as banged up as Pittsburgh’s defense is and the fact that the Steelers have not had a bye week yet, if there is a week to catch them, it might be now. With the momentum that the Bengals have and that it is at home, we’re going to say the winning streak extends to six.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King: 24-20 Bengals
- Love Ryan Clark‘s take on Andy Dalton to me this week: “You can tell how good he is for two reasons. One, how much better Cincinnati is with him. Two, how bad TCU is without him.” The Steelers see it up close for the first time, and all of a sudden, the Bengals — with a win, 6-1 in the AFC — have to be taken very seriously.
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco: 20-17 Bengals
- This is a huge game for both teams. The Steelers can’t afford another loss in the division after losing to the Ravens last week. The Bengals are for real on defense. And we know the Steelers are. This shapes up as a low-scoring game with the team that makes the mistakes being the loser. I think it’s the Steelers that make them.
- Matchup to Watch #1: Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton vs. Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau– They say facing LeBeau’s complicated defenses can be daunting for a rookie. But I asked Dalton about it last week and he was looking forward to the challenge. He is a smart quarterback who might be better suited to handle it than most rookies. Dalton should have spent extra time in the film room this week.
- Matchup to Watch #2: Bengals receiver A.J. Green vs. Steelers corner Ike Taylor — Taylor has done some of his best cover work this season, playing more man than usual. He will likely get the call on Green in man coverage. Green is an impressive rookie who knows how to go up and get the football. Look for the Bengals to challenge Taylor a lot if he’s singled on Green.
ESPN’s staff predictions:
- Something to hang your hat on, Ron Jaworski is 8-0 this season in predicting the Bengals games. He predicted them to win again.
ESPN’s NFL Live crew pick the Steelers over the Bengals: