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An Early Look Ahead....

Here's a few quick facts about the Steelers, the Benglas, and the rivalry between the two teams.


*Coach Cowher holds a 20-8 lifetime mark over the Bengals. The twenty wins equal the most against any one opponent.

*I know the Bengals have gotten significantly better in the past two years, but the Steelers have still won 3 of 4 against Cincy.

*If we are going to win on Saturday, Willie Parker will have to have a big game. In two regular season games against the Bengals last year, Willie ran the ball 33 times for 202 yards.

*I'd say Ben Roethlisberger loves to throw the ball against Cincinnati. In last year's playoff game, Big Ben was 14-of-19 for 208 yards and 3 TDs. His performance that day against Cincy set the tone for the rest of the playoffs. Ben even owned the Bengals as a rookie. In fact, one of his first big wins as a pro came in week 4 of the 2004 season against Cincy. Ben engineered two touchdown drives in the 4th quarter to help rally his team to victory. I fully expect Ben to play much better against an improved but banged-up Bengals squad.


*In case you missed that last link, the Bengals lost three key players during last Sunday's victory over the Cleveland Browns. LB David Pollack is out for the year with a neck injury. SS Dexter Jackson will also miss Sunday's game. The loss of starting center Rich Braham may have the most immediate short-term impact on Cincy. Only one person on the field handles the ball as much as the QB, and that's the center. I know I wouldn't like to have a back-up playing for my team as I prepared for the Steelers at Heinz Field.

*Speaking of home field advantage...for most teams playing the Bengals at home, it hasn't meant much. Cincy has won 8 of their past 10 road games. That's impressive for college football, let alone the NFL.

*I'm now convinced. Rudi Johnson is a great running back. Check out his numbers from the past two seasons . Just a shade under 1500 yards in back-to-back seasons in a system that loves to throw the football. With Chad Johnson in pain, and TJ Houshmanzadeh (who I think is awesome) still not healthy, the Bengals might try to run the ball even more than usual. Doesn't typically work at Heinz Field, but for the sake of Palmer's health, I'd image they will try to establish the run as much as possible to keep the offense out of obvious passing situations.

Much, much, more to come as we get ready to get back in the win column this Sunday.

Go Steelers!