Below are seven matchups or things to look for on Sunday as the Steelers take on the Cincinnati Bengals.
Polamalu Effect – The Steelers were without Troy Polamalu the first time these two teams met this season. You would have to wonder what the outcome would of been had Polamalu played. He showed his speed is back in the Denver game and looks almost 100%. His mere presence on the field makes the defense better, let alone his play.
Attack Livings – A healthy Lawrence Timmons will get a shot at left guard Nate Livings who will start in place of the injured Evan Mathis. Livings is big, but not as mobile as Mathis and can be exploited around the corner if Timmons has his burst back.
Bottle Up Benson – The Steelers did a great job of holding down Cedric Benson in the first meeting except for a few big runs, one being a 23 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. That was a third of his rushing yards on the day and a huge momentum shifter in the game. The same defensive game plan should apply minus the big runs.
Pass To Run – The Bengals pass defense is ranked 24th in the league in yards allowed per game, while their run defense is second only to the Steelers in rushing yards allowed per game. Making the safeties play back with a great passing attack should open up the running game for Rashard Mendenhall. The Bengals will want the Steelers to run and get into third and long situations that are more predictable. Keeping their defense guessing on third downs will be an advantage.
Keep Turnovers Coming – The last few weeks have seen the defense forcing turnovers once again. The last time these two teams played, the Steelers forced zero turnovers.
Trickeration – We all remember the fake punt the first time these two teams played this year. While it did not result in points, it should serve as a wake up call that the Bengals have it in their arsenal. Also, I would not be surprised to see a surprise onsides kick or flea flicker as well.
Finish Them – The Denver game was a perfect example of how to finish a team. Early in the season the Steelers lacked that ability. Keeping the foot on the gas pedal versus a good Bengals team is a must. 4th quarter domination must be achieved as they are a very opportunistic team that can come back.