The Cincinnati Bengals prepare to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 5th straight playoff appearance. The Saturday night AFC Wildcard match up features two teams with little love for the other, which we saw in week eight and 14 of the regular season. We had a chance to sit down with Fansided’s Steelers site editor, Kim Myers of Still Curtain.
Stripe Hype: Steelers fans, at least the ones I know, are already preparing a pedestal for their seventh Lombardi trophy. Is that the true feeling around Pittsburgh or is the focus on just getting out of the Wildcard round at this point?
Kim Myers: Some Steelers fans prepare for the seventh Lombardi trophy every training camp, that’s just the way it is around here. After the Ravens lost the yinzers were ready to fire everyone and trade all of the players but with the playoffs you can’t help but at least be a little hopeful.
I’d like to think I’m more realistic. Considering all the suspensions and injuries and the schedule the Steelers had this year it would be pretty sweet to get a playoff win to top it off. I’m just thinking about the game at hand, it’s not going to be an easy one whatsoever.
SH: DeAngelo Williams is now considered out for Saturday night’s game, how does this effect the game planning for the Steelers, especially one that usually relies on a successful play action passing game?
KM: The Steelers seem very confident in Fitzgerald Touissant for whatever reason. I’ve got to think that since they’re the only ones to have seen him on a daily basis in practice and on the scout team for so long that the confidence is real. It’s a much better overall situation than they were in this time last year after just losing Le’Veon Bell and signing Ben Tate to have one week of practice before throwing him out against the Ravens. Toussaint and Jordan Todman have been with the team all year so they know the playbook and what’s expected of them. If the offensive line can hold up, they should be decent.
If I’m Todd Haley or Ben Roethlisberger I start the game with an aerial assault though. This isn’t the kind of game to be patient and let these guys gain confidence and let the running game develop.
SH: The Steelers secondary has not played their best games the past two weeks, what is the key to stopping A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, and Tyler Eifert?
KM: The thing is with A.J. Green the Steelers have found ways to beat the Bengals while allowing Green to have career-high numbers and with this defense that is so bad against the pass they can’t be counted on to stop everyone. The best way to stop those three will be to get after McCarron; force him to make throws he doesn’t want to make and generate turnovers. The Steelers have been awful against the pass but terrific in the red zone so if they can keep Eifert out of the end zone they’ll be on the right track.
SH: The Steelers haven’t seen A.J. McCarron since he has gotten more reps with the first team, what is the plan to stop the air and play action attack the Bengals have been successful with for 2.5 games?
KM: The best thing the Steelers can do to rattle A.J. McCarron is score on their first drive. Just have Ben Roethlisberger and the offense march down the field and score right away so that when the ball is put in McCarron’s hand he feels all of the pressure of his first playoff game. Turn it over to the Steelers defensive front seven to blitz the hell out of him and hope it doesn’t have to come down to the Steelers secondary to stop him.
SH: What is the final score in this one? Are the Steelers heading to Denver or are the Bengals off to Foxboro?
KM: Being an unapologetic total Steelers homer I can’t not think the Steelers are going to win. Being a realistic football fan I’d have to back a Ben Roethlisberger-led team over an A.J. McCarron-led team. I think experience wins out and Roethlisberger doesn’t turn the ball over and has a monster game but I think it will be close because the Steelers defense can and will give up yards and points. Steelers 31 Bengals 28.