Steelers @ Bengals Wild Card Weekend History, Preview and Prediction
Never been one to count on history when it comes to professional sports, specifically when it comes to the National Football League. But for some strange reason..history is going to be a huge part of this Wild Card Weekend Matchup. The only matchup with such a history is the one between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Let’s face it, no other game will be more intriguing this weekend than round 3 of the Steelers v. Bengals. A matchup not only between AFC North rivals, but also between two teams that just don’t like each other one bit. And if you ask me..thanks to Bengals linebacker, Vontaze Burfict the hate has escalated into loathing.
HISTORY SHOWS: Since Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger entered the league in 2004, Pittsburgh is 18-7 against Cincinnati.
Pretty good odds in the favor of the Steelers don’t you think? But the more astounding fact/stat about lopsided history record is the away win ratio for Pittsburgh. 11-2 at Paul Brown Stadium..in Cincy’s own dojo.
PLAYOFF HISTORY: The Steelers and Bengals have only met in the playoffs once back in 2006. The infamous moment when then Cincinnati quarterback, Carson Palmer was injured in the game when Pittsburgh defensive lineman, Kimo Von Oelhoffen was blocked into the legs of Palmer. A play that Bengals fans still consider as being deliberate on Von Oelhoffen’s part..but Steelers fans know better.
Though the Steelers have mostly dominated this rivalry, it has heated up in recent seasons due to the Bengals resurgence among NFL teams. Even during the Bengals’ dismal years in the 1990s and early 2000s when they were one of the NFL’s worst teams, they would at times get the better of the Steelers, who were usually the dominant team in the division during the “Bungals” years. One notable example came in 1998, when the Bengals swept the Steelers in the season series while finishing 3-13 overall. Their only other win coming against the Detroit Lions in overtime. The loss knocked the Steelers out of playoff contention finishing the season 7-9.
The rivalry rose to new heights in 2009 when the Bengals were AFC North Division champions. They boasted a perfect 6-0 division record, not only twice beating the long-time champion Steelers, but the Ravens and Browns. Despite their division dominance, the Bengals were only 4-6 against the rest of the NFL, finishing 3-1 against the NFC North and 1-5 against other AFC teams. The Bengals made the playoffs as AFC North Champions, and they began their short playoff run with a home game against the New York Jets. The Bengals were expected to win, but the Jets shut down the Bengals and put an end to their season.
RECENT HISTORY: The Steelers opened as a 1 point favorite on the road against the Bengals but climbed to a 2 point favorite by Sunday night. The difference I see here is the Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger, a high-powered, dominating offense..perhaps minus running back, DeAngelo Williams. The Bengals are probably going to be without Andy Dalton (broken thumb) again, and will likely be starting AJ McCarron. McCarron’s a pretty good backup, but seemed to be flustered in the second half of these two teams last meeting where Pittsburgh came away with a 33-20 victory.
I see nothing different happening this Wild Card Weekend when the Steelers travel back into Paul Brown Stadium. Their defense, although pass friendly due to the less than stellar play of corner Antwon Blake, will definitely be attacked to his side..but the resurging pass rush will have McCarron throwing on his heels. As for Blake:
Those statistics are definitely nothing to brag or boast about. Hopefully these reverse records he holds will give him the will and urge to perhaps..I don’t know, maybe tackle someone every now and then. Something like he did when he sacked Cleveland Browns quarterback, Austin Davis last Sunday would be nice.
But it isn’t just Blake and the defense that needs to do their part, the offense definitely needs to produce as well. Roethlisberger has thrown an unusual amount of interceptions over the last few weeks, and wide receiver has had some uncharacteristic drops recently. Both of these issues need to be addressed and adjusted if the Steelers plan to advance into the next round of the playoffs. Because with Williams most likely being placed on the shelf for this one, Fitzgerald Toussaint will have to carry the load with 10-15 carries.
Personally I just don’t see the Bengals pulling this off. I see McCarron committing turnovers, while Roethlisberger picks up where he left off in the last meeting. As long as the defense plays like they have been there should be no reason why they should not advance to the next round.
Brian Christopher Jenkins
“IT’S A STEELERS WORLD”!