Bengals at Steelers
The Cincinnati Bengals are trying to kill two birds with one stone this Sunday - clinch themselves a playoff berth while knocking out the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers will be looking to stay alive when they host the Bengals in Week 16. Cincinnati still has a shot at the AFC North title, though that road necessitates not only a win over Pittsburgh but the Baltimore Ravens as well. The Bengals have dropped nine straight to those two teams.
The Steelers have dropped four of their last five but still control their own destiny. Wins over Cincinnati and the Cleveland Browns will put them into a wild card spot, and those two wins plus a pair of losses by the Ravens would vault them to the top of the AFC North. The Bengals are fighting against recent history when it comes to the Steelers, who have dominated the series. Ben Roethlisberger is 13-4 in his career against Cincinnati while Bengals QB Andy Dalton has yet to beat the division rivals.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Steelers -4, O/U, 43.5
ABOUT THE BENGALS (8-6): Cincinnati sits behind both Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the tiebreaker scenarios because of a worse division record but can change that in the last two weeks. The Bengals have won five of six to put themselves in this position but were denied at home by the Steelers 24-17 on Oct. 21. Dalton went just 14-for-28 for 105 yards, one touchdown and one interception in that contest, which came during a four-game slide. One of the things that has turned around for Cincinnati over the last month is the running game, where BenJarvus Green-Ellis has gone over 100 yards in each of the four wins. Green-Ellis rushed for 69 yards in the first meeting with Pittsburgh.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (7-7): Roethlisberger looked rusty after a three-game absence during a 34-24 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Dec. 9 and had some bumps in an overtime loss at Dallas last week. Roethlisberger threw for 339 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Cowboys but publicly questioned the play-calling after the game. The veteran QB apologized for his comments during the week. Roethlisberger has legitimate complains about a running game that ranks 26th in the NFL and an offensive line that gave up four sacks in the Dallas loss. But while the offense struggles, the defense is consistently near the top of the league. The Steelers are first in opponent passing yardage (180.6) and held A.J. Green to one catch in the last meeting.
1. Pittsburgh CB Ike Taylor (ankle) is out and backup Keenan Lewis (hip/knee) is questionable.
2. Dalton needs 86 yards to surpass his total from last season (3,398).
3. The Steelers rushed for 167 yards in the first meeting, led by Jonathan Dwyer’s career-high 122.