Bengals News

Keys to a Bengals victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers

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PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 22: Tyler Kroft #81 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates with Cethan Carter #82 after a 1 yard touchdown reception in the second quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 22, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 22: Tyler Kroft #81 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates with Cethan Carter #82 after a 1 yard touchdown reception in the second quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 22, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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Monday Night Football is upon the city of Cincinnati and the Bengals need a win to keep pace with the AFC playoff picture.

It’s been brewing for eight long and excruciating days. But, it’s finally time to find out what the Cincinnati Bengals are capable of doing on Monday Night Football. Recent history denotes more of the same. Facing the Pittsburgh Steelers will be a monumental task that could expose, to say the least, what fans and coaches don’t want to know. But, this isn’t about sticking your head in the sand. This is a primetime affair that will make or break the Bengals chances at a playoff berth.

Getting into the AFC Wild Card picture is becoming a hectic chore. The field is a logjam of teams that need one leader to step forward. A host of candidates are sitting at the 5-6 mark and expecting help from other teams. But, this is the Bengals’ chance to make a statement and take control of their own destiny. The road gets no easier after Pittsburgh. The reeling Chicago Bears are next on the list. And the answer is yes. That could easily turn into a trap game for Cincy, after an emotional contest against the Steelers.

But, with a ton of focus and a little bit of luck, the tables could turn for the Bengals.

Bill Lazor’s play calling has to keep them guessing

It’s something that the Bengals seem to never do. For some uncanny reason, the Steelers are in the heads of the players and coaches. 

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No, they’re not superhuman. But, if Lazor’s game plan is a hodgepodge of warmed-over Thanksgiving scraps, it’ll be a long game for the Bengals. Staying unpredictable can mean the difference between a screen pass on first down or a flea flicker to set the tone. But, that has to come with the setup of the running game. In Week 12, the Bengals finally found some running room against a Brown’s defense that’s stout against the ground game. The Steelers are even better, ranking 4th in the NFL. But, if Cincinnati is going to flex their muscles, it has to start with being fearless.

Andy Dalton and the offense have been a sight better than they were under Ken Zampese. The progression has been evident, even with the tendency to get stagnant at times. If the Bengals can get receivers open downfield, things could get interesting. The Steelers secondary has been prone to big plays over the past few weeks. Chunk plays have almost cost them games. Lazor and Dalton have to find ways to get their speedy receivers deep passes.

Let Joe go

In their first meeting, Joe Mixon was able to rip through the Steelers D for substantial first-half yardage. Mixon ended the first thirty minutes with 48 yards on 7 carries. Amazingly, he wasn’t seen again in the second half. To get the best of the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals need to let Mixon go wild. The Biggest problem? Getting Marvin Lewis to allow the rookie to carry the team.

In order to counteract the Steelers ferocious defense, the running game has to hum like a well-oiled machine. The Bengals have to find a way to get the big uglies in the groove and dominate the line of scrimmage. Can you think of the last time Cincy had a 100-yard rusher in a win against the Steelers? Think back to 1999. Corey Dillon had 120 yards in a 27-20 Bengals squeaker.

Establishing the ground game is more important than some may think. Getting a good showing against the Steelers will definitely set up the show for Minnesota. But, that’s a few weeks away. Let’s not get all Mike Tomlin.

Again. Hey, Marv. It’s not insane to let a rookie lead the offense. Look at what Alvin Kamara did against the Panthers.

Primetime Andy has to get it right

Gotta keep preaching it. This is the big time. There are no do-overs. Andy Dalton has to let the Bengals know what he can do under the bright lights. But, it’s not so much the stars at night. Dalton needs to prove there’s hope for him against the Steelers.

In 13 attempts, Dalton has laid ten goose eggs. Is it the jitters due to the magnitude of the game or is it being unprepared for the moment? Any game against the Steelers should be considered huge. For Dalton to be out of it against the division rival says something for coaching.

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Dalton has to show that he’s better than the lifetime 75.6 QBR he’s compiled against the Steelers. Getting a solid game from The Ginger will be a step in the right direction.

"“We want to win. For us to get to where we want to be at the end of the year, this one is really important for us,” Dalton revealed via Bengals.com. “We’re playing a good team. To win this one would obviously mean a lot, just for where we are trying to go, but also to show what kind of team we are.”"

A primetime victory would do wonders for showing what they’re capable of doing.

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