Vontaze Burfict is Bengals’ X-Factor for Steelers game


Vontaze Burfict will be the Bengals’ X-factor for Sunday’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tomorrow’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers will be one of the Bengals’ toughest tests of the 2015 season. The Bengals have sustained more injuries this week than in any other week of the year.

Cincinnati’s secondary, in particular, has been ravaged by injuries. The only healthy corner on the entire Bengals roster is Troy Hill, who was promoted to the active roster just last week. Even starting safety George Iloka is battling a hamstring injury, meaning that Reggie Nelson is the only starting member of the Bengals’ secondary not listed on the injury report.

Someone is going to have to step up on defense. Vontaze Burfict needs to be that guy. Burfict has recorded 38 tackles since returning from an injury in Week 8. While the numbers don’t pop out on paper, the linebacker has been instrumental in Cincinnati’s run defense, which has allowed over 20 yards less rushing per game since Burfict’s return to the lineup.

And provided that Burfict was a bit rusty in his first game back against the Steelers, I also took a look at his totals not including the matchup with the Steelers. And with Burfict recording at least seven tackles in each of the last four games, it’s safe to say that he’s finally returning to form.

Vontaze Burfict will certainly be at the center of attention tomorrow, as several Steelers players and almost the entire Pittsburgh fanbase are convinced that Burfict’s tackling of Le’Veon Bell was somehow dirty. I don’t see why.

Take a look and decide for yourself by watching the video here.

The Steelers loathe Vontaze Burfict, and Burfict isn’t a fan of the Steelers either.

Burfict will be vital in Cincinnati’s effort to shut down DeAngelo Williams and the Steelers’ run game.

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Geno Atkins

is deservedly getting the majority of the attention among Bengals defenders, Burfict deserves some love. His progress has helped the Bengals’ defense become the league’s top scoring defense and one of its top run-stopping defenses.

If Burfict can make enough plays in the run game, the Steelers will be forced to pass. And while that may seem scary, with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger at the helm with an arsenal of weapons at his disposal, forcing the Steelers to become one-dimensional will allow Cincinnati’s defense to pass-commit and, hopefully, force some turnovers.

From there, the defense will just have to trust Andy Dalton and the offense to make some plays and help the Bengals come out on top.

Next: Bengals vs Steelers: More Than A Rivalry Game

Sunday’s game will be a big test for the Bengals. Burfict’s role in shutting down Pittsburgh’s run game makes him Cincinnati’s X-factor for the matchup.