3. Take advantage of the Steelers’ depleted defensive front.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the best overall defenses in the entire NFL, but going into Sunday, many of those pieces won’t be on the field. Alex Highsmith, Carl Davis, Stephon Tuitt, and T.J. Watt will all be inactive against the Bengals.
So what can Cincinnati do to exploit those holes? First, get Joe Mixon the ball in between the tackles and be aggressive throwing the ball down the field. As long as the offensive line can hold up and stay stout throughout the game, Joe Burrow should have success finding his receivers down the field.
Keeping the Steelers off-balance and staying unpredictable will be vital. If Pittsburgh can’t determine if we are giving the ball to Mixon or airing it out, it will open more great looks for our offense through the run and the pass.
2. Get Tyler Boyd involved.
Getting Tyler Boyd involved in this one will be very important, especially if Tee Higgins doesn’t play. As of now, Higgins is labeled as doubtful, and we should find out more pre-game. Nonetheless, if he plays or doesn’t, he will be limited and playing through an injury that kept him out multiple days this week in practice.
The Higgins injury will likely make Boyd’s targets increase in this matchup. So far this season, he has yet to find his standard groove; although he did lead the team in receptions last week, it was only 7 receptions for 73 yards. But with a reunion game in Pittsburgh where he played college ball, expect to see a motivated and aggressive version of himself. In addition, Ja’Marr Chase will probably draw the number one corner for Pittsburgh so that Boyd may see a more favorable matchup.
Expect the Bengals not to waste any time attacking the secondary trying to catch the Steelers off guard. Getting Boyd a few catches early on in the game wouldn’t be the worst approach either.
- Win in the trenches
This could be the most important aspect for a Bengals win tomorrow on both sides of the ball. Winning the game inside and in the trenches could be the deciding factor of who steals this one. Being a division game with two rival teams, there will be a lot of energy and challenging, hard-hitting plays. Winning the battles up front will lead to success in the run game and the passing game and disrupt the Steelers’ offense.
Najee Harris will be key to stop for the defensive line. Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard will have to secure the edge and not let Harris get to that second level because his speed and agility are nothing to joke about. And with recent rumors of Ben Roethlisberger playing with a hurt pec, they will probably give the ball to Harris plenty.
Also, taking advantage of Ben being limited should be a key for the defense. Getting after him and trying to force sacks and push them behind the chains will help.
At the end of the day, the offensive line will be the biggest question. Jackson Carman is expected to make his NFL debut tomorrow at right guard, and the Steelers have a depleted front seven, but Devin Bush and Melvin Ingram will still be able to create issues with their ability to blitz and react to the ball. So keying in on those guys, especially Ingram, will be significant for the offensive lines approach in this one.