Week 7 brings on the headache known as the Pittsburgh Steelers. To make their way to .500, the Bengals need to play inspired football.
Week 7 will be a test of mental fortitude and character, for the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s always a dance with insanity when the Pittsburgh Steelers are the foe of the week. Since getting over a shaky start and finding the offense analysts knew they were capable of, Cincinnati is looking strong. This is the team that fans had been promised over the offseason. A quick-hitter that gets the job done with efficiency and poise.
Playing at Heinz Field is no easy chore. Additionally, just playing the Steelers is a bummer and major headache. Since the rivalry began, the Bengals are 35-60 (.368) against their divisional enemy. Since Marvin Lewis has been at the reins, the W’s are there but not as many as there should be. Lewis has managed just a handful of wins against the Steelers (8) and six of those have come in Pennsylvania.
With the first of the two-game set slated for Sunday (4:25 pm, CBS), there’s a lot that needs to be accomplished for the Bengals to get a win. But, there’s a chance Cincinnati comes out on top. Here’s a look at what has to happen.
More from Bengals News
- 6 Bengals whose stock significantly rose in preseason game vs Cardinals
- 7 winners and 7 losers from Bengals preseason opener vs. Cardinals
- Jackson Carman winning LG job isn’t a given after Bengals preseason opener
- Denzel Ward wants to flex on Bengals WRs in 2022
- Scouting the enemy: Bengals preseason opener chat with Raising Zona
There has been a growing tendency for the Bengals to just go insane when they play Pittsburgh. Games have started out being competitive but then slowly devolve into some sort of WWE grudge match.
If the Bengals are going to come away with a win, this is a game that they must be mentally prepared for. This will be a tricky task for Lewis. Traditionally, his teams are extremely lackluster coming from a Bye Week. The Bengals are 5-8-1 after having time to regroup. That’s not exactly championship pedigree. But, it’s better than being outright horrible. Essentially, if the Bengals are going to win this game, they have to come out and play like it’s…a postseason affair.
The last playoff experience for the Bengals was both heroic and a complete meltdown. Believe it or not, this game has postseason implications. The Week 5 win over Buffalo was nice. But, this is a game that has to go in the left column. In order to do that, there have to be cool heads and a mindset to totally dominate the Steelers. It’s time to prove that the last two wins over the Bills and Browns have provided momentum for the heavy road grind ahead.
Run The Ball…Please
First, a win’s a win. If Andy Dalton has to drop back and chuck the rock 45 times, so be it. But, the end result has to be a W.
Yet, there’s still something missing from the Bengals arsenal. That key element is the running game. Jeremy Hill hasn’t been able to rekindle the 2014 magic that kept him in Cincinnati. Joe Mixon is a bundle of energy waiting to explode. But, for some odd reason, he hasn’t had that breakout game that fans are waiting on. His first game against the Steelers would be a great time to find the groove.
Though he may not have the stats of Mixon, Giovani Bernard has been a model of consistency in the backfield. Even with limited usage, Bernard is giving the offense 4.6 yards per rush. If things don’t get turned around fast, Bill Lazor may have to think about giving him a start.
Give Andy Time
Under Lazor, the Bengals’ offense has been working at a quicker pace. That doesn’t mean the O-line can relax. Now, the offensive line will be asked to play its biggest game of the season so far. The Steelers’ defense is looking faster than last year’s version. What does that mean? Simply put, Pittsburgh’s D is looking like the unit that Dick LeBeau manned back in the day. Suddenly, the blitz has made a return to prominence in the scheme.
Dalton is working at a nice pace. But, he still needs to have time to connect with open targets downfield. Giving him the time to go through progressions will increase the odds for a ball-control tempo. Yes, that can happen with a short and quick passing attack. It’s all about the tempo between plays. Give The Ginger time, play sound football and the Bengals will get to .500.