Steelers run defense vs. Bengals running game Something has to give as Pittsburgh has not gotten the job done all year long defensively against the run.
The Steelers are allowing Cincinnati has not been able to get anything going on the ground, averaging just Pittsburgh's defensive line needs to take advantage of the Bengals' issues up front and seize control of the line of scrimmage from the opening kickoff.
Cameron Heyward and the rest of the defensive line have to play fundamentally sound football and if they do that, Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard will continue to gain much ground.
In addition, the ability to stay patient with the running game is important as well for the Bengals as they need to get the game into the fourth quarter with a chance to win. Will these be Mason Rudolph's coming out party? The responsibility for turning Rudolph loose falls on offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, who needs to inject some life into this Pittsburgh offense early so they can gain some valuable confidence.
The Steelers also acquired tight end Nick Vannett from the Seattle Seahawks earlier this week as insurance for Vance McDonald, who is battling shoulder issues.
Vannett is a solid pass catcher who was a part of the Seahawks' game plan in the first three games 4 rec, 38 yds. So there is potential with Vannett and it will be interesting to see how Pittsburgh uses him on Monday night and moving forward.
Turnover battle The Steelers did a nice job last week on the road last week creating five turnovers against San Francisco. This gives Pittsburgh a plus-three margin entering the Monday night game, which is tied for second in the NFL. On the other hand, Cincinnati is one of the worst at protecting the football -4, tied for 28th , which has contributed to their start.
Ball security is going to be crucial in this contest as the Steelers have shown an ability to strip the ball five fumble recoveries already.
The Bengals also have enough of a pass rush that if they don't get the sack, they could still force an errant pass that leads to an interception, especially considering Rudolph's lack of experience as an NFL starter. Whichever team does a better job of holding onto the ball or the one that causes the other to lose it, could a key deciding factor.
Final Analysis It is going to be easy for a lot of people to mock this game and dismiss simply based on the fact both teams are However, this is still an AFC North rivalry that is being played for the th time Pittsburgh leads , including playoffs with no love lost between either team.
Both teams are going to play with urgency without question, but at the end of the day, it will be Pittsburgh that picks up with their first win of the season. The Steelers will make a couple of key plays late on defense to finally get into the win column.
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