3 most important players for Bengals vs. Steelers in Week 3
By Alex Austin
The Cincinnati Bengals head to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers this week in a critical matchup if the Bengals want to stay competitive in the AFC North.
The good guys started the season off well but were unable to keep that momentum going against the Chicago Bears in Week 2. The loss particularly hurts because Cincinnati had a chance to win the game against a team they matched up well with. Now the Bengals need to move on quickly and prepare for a tough road matchup against their AFC North rival, the Steelers.
The Bengals will enter this game as underdogs, and rightly so given the recent history between these two teams. Pittsburgh has had their way with Cincinnati recently, and this year on paper the Steelers are the more talented team. but, as they say, there is a reason you play the game.
Although the stripes will enter this game as underdogs, there is plenty of talent on this team to make the game interesting. If the Bengals are going to pull off the road upset there are a few players who will need to step up to make a difference. Here are the most important Bengals’ who will need to perform to give their team a chance.
Offensive line for the Cincinnati Bengals will need to step up
One of the biggest question marks coming into the season was if the Bengals had done enough to improve their offensive line. There was some positivity coming out of camp and into the preseason, but the first two weeks of the regular season have seen a similar offensive line to last year.
Already through the first two games, Joe Burrow has been sacked nine times, which is on pace to set records. This is not a good sign for a guy coming back from a season-ending injury because he took too many hits last year. Going up against a top defense for the second week in a row there need to be some quick adjustments if Cincinnati is going to have a chance at staying in the game.
The tackles have been sub-par this year for the Bengals, but the area that has been killing Cincinnati is the middle of their line. Teams and players have been able to manhandle the middle of Cincyi’s line, which makes life very difficult on Burrow. Taking away Burrow’s ability to step up in the pocket has ended up in some forced throws and interceptions. This is not something that can happen against the Steelers.
Burrow will need to turn a new leaf and have a smart game
Burrow did not have a good game against the Bears. Yes, he was being pressured, but throwing three interceptions is not going to get the job done. The LSU product needs to have a short memory, forget about what happened in the last game, and go out and play to the max of his abilities to give the Bengals a chance.
When the former first overall pick is playing his best, he has the time to make smart throws, find the open man underneath, and stay ahead of the chains. He can mix in the long ball to keep the defense guessing and potentially provide a spark to the offense with an explosive play. We saw all this happen against the Vikings as he led the Bengals to a win.
The opposite happened last week when Burrow was unable to sustain any kind of drive and ultimately cost his team the game with costly interceptions.
Joe Burrow is the key for the Bengals. When he does well, the team is going to do well. Against a top defense, Burrow will likely decide the outcome based on his ability to make smart throws and keep possession of the ball.
If the Bengals can keep the scoring low, they have a chance to sneak in a late score and win one in Pittsburgh.
One of the keys for the Cincinnati Bengals will be to keep the scoring low. The Pittsburgh defense is not going to let this game turn into a shootout, so if the Bengals’ defense does not do their part in keeping the score low this game could get out of hand. One of the best ways to disrupt this offense is by getting penetration and pressure, which is something Larry Ogunjobi has been doing remarkably well.
Ogunjobi has been a bright spot on a defense that is performing well up to this point in the year. The free-agent signing is making a big difference and helping Cincinnati disrupt opposing schemes. He will again be tasked to both clog up rushing lanes and getting pressure on the quarterback in passing situations on Sunday.
The Steelers have not scored much this year, but because of their defense, they have not needed to. Ogunjobi will need to lead Cincinnati in keeping the score low to allow Burrow some margin of error. There will be plenty of important players on the defensive side of the ball, but Ogunjobi stands out for how much he can impact the rushing and passing games.
If the Bengals can check these three boxes, they have a good shot at winning in the Steel City.