The Cincinnati Bengals found out their fate around 7 pm on Sunday night when the Denver Broncos beat the San Diego Charges to not only get the Bye but also home field advantage. Now, they must face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Bengals and Steelers have split the season series and created one of the biggest rivalries in the NFL in the process. In week eight, the Bengals went into Pittsburgh and played one of the most dominate defensive performances this season. It was also the start of the biggest rivalry of the season when Vontaze Burfict tackled Le’Veon Bell, tearing his ACL and ending his season.
The Bengals went on to win 16-10 that day and take control of the AFC North for good. The Steelers were saying he injured Bell on purpose, which is very improbable in football, especially on a legal tackle. The Steelers were fortunate because DeAngelo Williams was right behind to give the season of a lifetime in Bell’s place.
Week 14 was a different story and a tail of another injury. Andy Dalton threw his worst pass of the season that was picked off at the three yard line and then attempted to tackle Stephon Tuitt, who outweighs Dalton by 90lbs, at least, fracturing his right thumb. A.J. McCarron made an untimely mistake, throwing his only interception of his season, and Steelers took a tough one.
Now, the Bengals and Steelers will meet for a third time. The Bengals still don’t know the status on Andy Dalton but the Steelers now face a difficult decision with running back DeAngelo Williams, as he left Sunday’s game with a sprained ankle, and awaits an MRI on Monday for his official diagnosis.
The loss of both players hurt these teams but the Bengals have had time to adjust with the passing game and McCarron has made some very good decisions with the ball since his first start. If Williams can not go for the Steelers on Saturday, Fitzgerald Toussaint would most likely take over the role.
Ben Roethlisberger has had some mistakes the past two weeks against the Ravens and Browns. The difference was the defensive performance with the Ravens dominating the Steelers secondary, but they had a solid performance vs. the Browns. Big Ben will need to eliminate the turnovers if the Steelers expect to win on Saturday.
The Bengals will look to shake their four game losing streak in the playoffs, which is something that has followed them around all season. The Bengals will look to avenge their week 14 loss and get their first win in the playoffs since 1991. If they pull it off, they would face the Patriots in Foxbourgh, a place that was not so nice to them in week 5 of the 2014 season.