Yes, it’s Steelers week and one of the fiercest rivalries in sports will be displayed on Monday Night Football this week between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. This game always produces more hype amongst Bengals fans as there is a common ingrained disdain for the black & yellow team from Pennsylvania. About 5 years ago I wrote a short article titled “What To Do About MY LEAST FAVORITE NFL TEAM” in which I mentioned a few reasons why the Steelers have become a team that Bengals fans love to hate. My feelings have not changed a whole lot since I wrote that short piece 5 years ago and like most Bengals fans I am hyped for this weeks game because of the potential this Bengals team has to take over the division and remain at the top of the AFC North throughout the season. If you ask me that takeover should start on Monday Night.
Last season the teams split their 2 game series and each team won a game, Pittsburgh came from behind and beat the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium 24-17 on Monday Night Football last year and then the Bengals were able to win a slugfest on the road in late December 13-10 to clinch a playoff spot while knocking Pittsburgh out of the playoff hunt.
This year both teams look much different than they did when they faced each other last year. On offense the Steelers no longer have WR Mike Wallace (now with the Dolphins) and they will also be without pro bowl C Maurkice Pouncey, TE Heath Miller and rookie RB Le’Veon Bell due to injuries. On defense they no longer have longtime NT Casey Hampton (not re-signed) and LB James Harrison (now with the Bengals) and they will also be without LB Larry Foote and CB Cortez Allen who are both injured. Cincinnati have added a few new dynamic offensive weapons with the addition of rookie TE Tyler Eifert and RB Giovani Bernard, they will also have a healthy number two wide receiver in Mohamed Sanu this time around. With the addition of these players and adding a veteran like James Harrison to Cincinnati’s top 10 defense from last year most of the national media consider the Bengals to be the favorite in this Week 2 matchup.
My point of view is that it does not matter how much better the Bengals may look on paper or even how much better the Bengals have played over the 2nd half of last season up until now, this game will be a tough physical contest. We all know what Ben Roethlisberger can do when he gets time to throw or when he scrambles and gets out of the pocket. In addition, playing a Dick Lebeau led defense will mean lots of pressure and different looks and it will not be a walk in the park for Cincinnati’s young offense. With that said I think Marvin Lewis and the coaching staff will have the team ready.
My prediction: Bengals 30, Steelers 20