The Bengals face a fired up Steelers team, in Week 2 action. But, the AFC North bragging rights are up for grab. Cincinnati may come away with the win.
Steelers Week brings out the best and worst. Both fans and players of both teams have developed an insane appetite for trash talk, over the years. Yet, this year seems different. The Bengals have been quiet as well as the Steelers.
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“That’s not who we are. It’s a physical football game and a physical division. That’s what we expect, a physical football game—clean.”
Big Ben may be giving the Bengals a “slight” compliment. But, the emphasis is on the game at hand. From what all the players are saying, the Heinz Field battle should be fun to watch.
Bengals fans saw the Steelers dismantle Kirk Cousins and Washington, in Week 1. The Redskins didn’t have the firepower to hang with Pittsburgh.
Week 2 will be a totally different story.
The Exploits Of A.J. Green
Bengals faithful are aware of Agent Green. Cincinnati’s not so secret weapon took Darrelle Revis to the woodshed, in Week 1. Revis Island was more like Fantasy Island for Green and Andy Dalton. The duo racked up 180 yards and a TD on the Pro Bowl corner.
The speedy Green also plays his best against the Ravens and Steelers. Dalton-Green produced the game-winning TD in Week 7 last year. In the Heinz Field showdown, they combined for 118 yards. After losing Dalton in the home game, A.J. was still able to put up 132 yards and a touchdown on six catches.
The Steelers secondary will get a wake-up call from the Bengals.
There’s nothing better than a tough-nosed, stout defense. Over the past two years, the Bengals have been one of the best. Paul Guenther’s gang ended the 2015 campaign as one of the elite units in the NFL. Their philosophy is simple: Don’t allow the other team to score.
Last week, the Bengals were able to limit Ryan Fitzpatrick to 189 yards passing. In the first half, Fitzpatrick was able to connect for 111 yards on 12-of-21 passing. But, the second half was about adjustments. Bengals defenders surrendered a paltry 78 yards. Was it negotiation rust or Cincinnati’s schemes? The bottom line is found in the final numbers.
Cincinnati will have to pack the middle and make it hard for DeAngelo Williams. Funneling him to run outside will give the Bengals’ linebackers a better chance to shut down the run.
The Andy Factor
Dalton has had all offseason to think about his thumb injury and its impact. Bengals fans will say it’s about revenge…but, it’s not. Sunday’s battle is about the maturation of Dalton and how he handles pressure. It will be the first time Coordinator Ken Zampese will be calling the shots in the face of a Steelers blitz.
The Ginger has a point to prove. What is it? The Bengals won the division and should have gone farther. It’s time to set the “little brother” moniker aside and show the Stilluhs clean football—executed correctly—is what wins on the road.