Why 2020 is the year the Bengals get a win against the Steelers
The Bengals have not defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2015, but 2020 could be the year Cincinnati shifts things back to their favor.
To say that the Pittsburgh Steelers have had the Cincinnati Bengals’ number as of late would be an understatement. The playoff loss of 2015 started a series of unfortunate events for the men in stripes that make the matchups between the two seem like anything other than a “rivalry”.
However, the Bengals of 2020 are a far cry from what we have seen over the last few seasons. The same could be said for the Steelers as well. A lot has changed on both sides since 2015 and it is possible that things could sway in the Bengals direction, for at least one game this season. Let’s take a look into both teams as they currently stand.
Gone is Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Those two were far and away the most explosive playmakers that Pittsburgh had to offer during their dominant run over the last decade. The Steelers still have talent on that offensive side of the ball, however, no one that strikes fear in the heart of defenses at the level that those two did.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is still at the helm in the Steel City, although age could be starting to catch up to the 38-year-old signal-caller. Wear and tear have caught up to Roethlisberger physically over the years as well. This is not to say that Big Ben can’t be a threat, but injuries seem to mount up more and more every year and decline in play could be soon to follow.
The defense is still one of the best in the league and must be accounted for. All in all, the Steelers still have a formidable roster and one of the best coaches in football. However, the gap could be closing between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
Although, what we have to go on is merely on paper for the most part, what we see on paper is greatly improved from before. It all starts with the most important position in sports, the quarterback position. Andy Dalton accomplished many great things in Cincinnati, however, the torch has been passed to National Champion, Heisman Winner, and #1 pick Joe Burrow.
Burrow is only a rookie and has much to prove, but he has the potential to be great, even all-time great. Not to put pressure on the former LSU product, he still has his whole career ahead of him, but the sky is certainly the limit for what he can accomplish. One thing the Ohio native isn’t short on, even at this point, is confidence.
Confidence is contagious and all signs say that this team is ready to rally around their young signal-caller and that is the first major key to building a winner. Burrow will believe that he can beat Pittsburgh and the rest of the team will follow suit. This isn’t to say that the team didn’t believe before but Burrow brings a different level of confidence.
The Bengals also have one of the most underrated sets of skill players in the league. Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate, John Ross, and Tee Higgins are young and exciting. Add to that veterans like Gio Bernard and A.J. Green, and you have an offense that can make some serious noise.
If Green can stay healthy he can still be a major player in the league and he seems to be hungry to prove that he can. That will only bode well for the Bengals. The offensive line is still a work in progress, but there is no reason to believe they won’t be improved.
With off-season additions, the Bengals have made the defensive side of the ball a unit that should be much improved as well. Guys like D.J. Reader, Mackenzie Alexander, Vonn Bell, as well as a plethora of new linebackers, are going to make a world of difference along with the core the Bengals already have. This unit could turn around quickly.
Coach Zac Taylor now has a year under his belt and should show improvement in his own right going into this season. Of course, no one can guarantee a win this season against Pittsburgh, but the gap that separated these two teams has certainly narrowed. This Bengals team is absolutely primed to turn the tide this season and even one win against the Steelers would help do that for this organization.