Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gameday: Cincinnati Bengals

Hamilton County Jail

What to Watch For

1. Andy Dalton vs Steelers Defense

Typically, the Steelers defense makes mince-meat out of rookie quarterbacks. But Dalton has led the Bengals to a 6-2 start. The Bengals have gone back to what made them successful in the past - running the ball and not forcing things in the passing game. Of course, Marvin Lewis has to feel like he's managing a resort now that the TOcho show has hit the road. For the Steelers, James Farrior should be back but LaMarr Woodley will miss another game. A number of other players have minor bumps and bruises. The defense has stepped it up against the run since getting gashed by Houston, so if the Bengals are going to beat us, it's going to require a big effort from Dalton. So far this year, Dalton has shown very good decision-making in the pocket and he has the athleticism to tuck and run if the play breaks down.

2. Steelers receivers vs Bengals Secondary

Even though the Bengals lost CB Jonathan Joseph in free agency, they replaced him with Nate Clements and the Bengals corners have been playing solid this season. Only twice this year have they given up over 250 yards through the air, but those two were in the last two weeks. Ben Roethlisberger is playing out of his mind right now, and you have to think the Steelers have an advantage here, particularly with our receivers. Hines should be back and even though Manny Sanders will be out of the lineup again, you have to like the way the Steelers match up here.

3. Run the Ball

In the past, the Steelers have run the ball very successfully against Cincinnati in the first half then completely abandoned the run in the second half, which makes games closer than they needed to be. The Bengals should get a healthy diet of Mendenhall and Redman to keep them off-balance. The team that can be more successful on the ground will win the game. Cincinnati actually has a decent run defense, with a lot of big bodies up front and big linebackers that key on the run. Which brings us to....

4. Heeeeeeeath

More specifically, utilizing the middle of the field. The Steelers have been incredibly successful going to Heath down the seam or utilizing deep-in routes this season. As much as Ben and Arians want to make sideline throws, the middle of the field has been wide open all season and it's great to see the Steelers finally starting to use it. Heath has 12 catches for 158 yards over the last two games. It's great to see Ben getting everyone involved and spreading the ball around.

5. 20 points

This seems to be the magic number this season. In games where the Steelers score over 20 points, we are 5-0. In games where we score 20 or less we are 1-3. On the other side of the ball, we are 0-2 when our defense gives up more than 20 and 6-1 when we hold our opponents under 20. What does that mean? We need a complete effort from both the offense and the defense. We have to keep Cincinnati out of the end zone and not give up any easy touchdowns on kick returns or turnovers. The offense also has to do their part to put points on the board and actually score touchdowns when they're in the red zone - not just settle for field goals.

Around the NFL

AFC North

St Louis @ Cleveland

Baltimore @ Seattle

Seattle is bad, but Baltimore has been dropping games to bad teams after picking up big wins.

Game of the Week

NY Giants @ San Francisco

Not sure how these two teams only have 3 losses between them, but this is an important game for the pecking-order in the NFC as we pass the halfway point of the season.

1 comment:

Justin Warrenfeltz said...

Since we lost to the Ravens last week, this becomes one of the two biggest games of the rest of the season, with the other biggest game being our second game against the Bengals, lol.