When the Bengals Throw the Ball:
Bengals Passing Attack: 12th – 252.9 ypg
Steelers Pass Defense: 7th – 221.8 ypg
The strength of the Steelers defense is their pass defense. Ike Taylor and Dick LeBeau have always had success shutting down the Bengals top receivers and in week 2, it was no different. Despite 14 targets, AJ Green caught just 6 balls for 41 yards and 0 TDs.
Some of this was the result of terrible passes by Dalton and some was the result of good defense by the Steelers. In their week 2 matchup, Dalton had 280 yards and a respectable 81.7 rating, but he was terribly inaccurate (55.6%) – especially in the 1st half – and had a QBR of just 39.5.
The difference in this game and their first matchup is the emergence of secondary weapons. In week 2, the Bengals had yet to find a #2 receiver and Bernard and Eifert had yet to establish their role in the offense. The Steelers will see a Bengals offense on Sunday night that spreads the ball around much more than they did in their first matchup and one thing is for sure, Green will not receive 1/3 of Dalton’s passes.
While I would expect Taylor and LeBeau to continue their success on Bengals #1 receivers, the Bengals secondary options (Jones, Bernard, Eifert, etc) should be able to expose the Steelers as a result of the attention paid to Green. As much success as Taylor and LeBeau have had against the Bengals #1 receivers in the past, the Bengals #2’s (see Houshmanzedah) have found success against LeBeau.
As long as Dalton has time – and with this new line, he should – the Bengals should have opportunities. Since Whitworth took over at LG, the Bengals have surrendered 0 sacks. This will be a tough matchup, but with the plethora of weapons the Bengals have at the skill positions, combined with the advantage they have on the line, I give the Bengals the advantage in this matchup.