Pro Football Focus did their weekly previews for every Week 16 NFL game, and they believe the Bengals’ key to pulling off the monumental road-win over the Pittsburgh Steelers will be how well A.J. Green plays against a secondary that will be missing Pro Bowler Ike Taylor, who was instrumental in holding Green to just one 8-yard reception in the two teams’ Week 7 matchup earlier this year:
Cincinnati has one of the league’s best receivers in AJ Green, and unfortunately for the Steelers they have been struck badly by injuries at just the worst time. They lost their best cornerback already (Ike Taylor) and now facing the prospect that their second best, Keenan Lewis, will also miss the game after injuring his knee stepping in a hole in practice. That leaves the Steelers with a major patchwork job in the secondary and trying to limit one of the league’s most dangerous weapons with players that are unlikely to have the quality to match up with him. Green has been targeted 18 times in his 3 matchups against the Steelers coming away with a combined total of 131 yards on 8 receptions. What really stands out is that he has a total of just 21 yards after the catch in these games. Green is 10th in yards after the catch right now so this may be his chance to personally put the nail in the coffin of the Steelers season.
Last week the Steelers handed Josh Victorian his first start and he was targeted heavily. He allowed seven receptions from the nine times he was thrown at and looked like he could have given up more if they had wanted to go that way. Victorian will start again this week and a platoon of sub-package players will have their hands full in trying to keep AJ Green in check.
Bottom line: A.J. is hands-down the Bengals’ best player, and this is the stage where the games’ elite shine the brightest. It’s time for Green to do just that.