From Bye Week to Steelers Week. The Cincinnati Bengals got their rest in Week 6 and are gearing up for a showdown with division-rival Pittsburgh on Sunday at Heinz Field.
Early odds have the Bengals as six-point underdogs when they travel to Pittsburgh this Sunday (4:25 p.m., CBS). Marvin Lewis owns an 8-22 record against the Steelers, with six of those wins coming at Heinz Field.
Lewis’ club is 4-4 after the bye weeks over the last eight years. Its last win, following an off week, was in Pittsburgh on November 1, 2015. They’ve dropped four straight against the Steelers since.
The Steelers have had questions swarming around them all season. Alejandro Villanueva standing alone for the anthem in Chicago, Antonio Brown’s sideline tirade in Baltimore, Ben Roethlisberger not having it anymore and Le’Veon Bell wanting more carries.
Despite all of those could-be distractions, the Steelers made a Steel City statement on Sunday. Bell ran for 179 yards and one touchdown, while Brown caught eight passes for 155 yards and one score as the Steelers beat the Chiefs – the only unbeaten club left in the NFL- at Arrowhead, 19-13.
This was typical Steelers’ fashion, of course. Just when you think they are on the brink of destruction (the case after a 21-point home loss to Jacksonville where Roethlisberger threw five picks), they turn their season around with a notable victory.
It was Pittsburgh’s second such win this season. After losing to Chicago in overtime in Week 3, they went to Baltimore and dominated the Ravens.
Baltimore’s sinking ship
On paper, it looked like the Baltimore Ravens had a favorable chance to move to 4-2. Playing at home against a one-win Bears team that had a rookie making his first road start, Baltimore was undeniable the favorite.
But Mitchell Trubisky only had to throw 16 passes as Chicago’s backfield tandem of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen ran the rock 50 times for 199 yards and the Bears won in overtime 27-24 at M&T Bank Stadium.
After a 2-0 start, the Ravens have dropped three of its last four, with their only win coming against an E.J Manuel-led Raiders team.
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It’s only Monday, so Bengals news is slow right now. The team did practice today, though. Notable, rookie wideout John Ross, who has missed the last three games with a knee injury, returned to practice but was limited.
Dre Kirkpatrick, who left the win over Buffalo with a shoulder injury, also returned to practice.
Adam Jones was the only big name on defense that did not practice Monday. The 11-year veteran is dealing with a back issue suffered against Buffalo.
Berry gives Dalton the nod
ESPN Fantasy Football guru Matthew Berry tabbed Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton as the best fantasy option for replacing Aaron Rodgers, who suffered a broken collarbone on Sunday in the Packers 23-10 loss to the Vikings.
Since Bill Lazor took over as offensive coordinator, Dalton has thrown seven touchdowns against just two interceptions (both on tipped passes vs. Buffalo) and has an average passer rating of 115.7.
Dalton faces Pittsburgh’s number-one ranked pass defense this Sunday. Keith Butler’s unit is yielding just 154 yards per game through the air.
Roughing the Passer
Steelers safety Mike Mitchell delivered a very late, very low hit on Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith in Pittsburgh’s 19-13 win over Kansas City on Sunday. Smith’s pass to rookie Kareem Hunt resulted in a 37-yard gain and Mitchell was flagged for roughing the passer.
Mitchell defended the hit, saying he is not a dirty player.