3. Stop the Run: In order to win those tough shootouts with bone-grinding teams like the Steelers and Ravens the Bengals must be able to force teams into pass situations by shutting down the running game.
In a close 24-16 loss to the Ravens last year the Bengals were able to hold Joe Flacco to under 200 yds passing, and even with Ray Rice blowing up for 191 yds and 2 rushing touchdowns, they kept the score close. If Cincinnati can slow down the run they could close in and take these games.
Another example is the Bengals Wildcard Playoff loss to the Houston Texans. Arian Foster looked untouchable as he burst to the edges and took off for huge gains. Foster had 155 rushing yds and 2 touchdowns.
When the Bengals lost to the Steelers in their first meeting the final score was 24-17 and although Rashard Mendenhall was held to under 100 yds he was allowed to rush for 2 touchdowns.
The closest the Bengals came to defeating their division leading rival Baltimore Ravens was during their first meeting when the Bengals lost 24-31 @ Baltimore. Ray Rice rushed for 104 yards which by all standards is pretty much a victory. But the Bengals defense gave up 2 rushing touchdowns to Rice and it was the difference maker in the 7-point win for the Ravens.
To sum it all up the Bengals need to beat the Steelers at least once and pass them within their division, stay healthy and get a strong push along the defensive and offensive front, and win those close games by stopping the run.