With both the Steelers and the Bengals coming off disappointing week 1 losses, both teams come into Monday night looking to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start. According to NFL.com, since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, only 11.6% of teams that have started 0-2 have gone on to make the playoffs. After Monday night, one of these two teams will be fighting to overcome that stat.
Now, here’s what to look for tonight….
When the Steelers Run the Ball:
Not much. In week 1, Steelers RBs with 2 ACLs ran 7 times for 8 yards (Redman). While I don’t think they can possibly suck that bad in week 2, the Bengals defense (especially the DL) is far better than the Titans defense that shut the Steelers down in week 1.
When the Steelers Throw the Ball:
Look for quick passes. With a non-existent running attack and a line that gave up 5 sacks in week 1, Ben is not likely to have much time to throw (the Steelers longest pass in week 1 went for just 22 yards). Combined with the lack of a true #1, the Steelers are likely to try lots of short patterns to try and get the ball out of Roethlisbergers hands quicker and negate the Bengals pass rush.
The problem is, the quick passes are not Ben’s strength. Ben’s strength is extending the play and finding the weak spot in the defense. Look for the Bengals to crowd the line of scrimmage and play tight on the receivers to make the quick throws as tough as possible.