This week we transition from Green Day's "Know Your Enemy" to the 1990 radio-favorite from Ugly Kid Joe, "Everything About You." You know it. Sing with me. "And I get sick when I'm around. I can't stand to be around, I hate everything about you".
That seems to perfectly sum up the relationship between Steeler fans and the Cincinnati Bengals. It's vice-versa too, I know. Yes, It is a team we definitely know all too well. After three games in 2015, if you don't know the name Burfict, PacMan or Green,then you're only there for the hot wings and hops/barley.
With Burfict suspended because of his actions the last time these bitter rivals faced each other, he need not be profiled here. Nor will TE Tyler Eifert who is injured. But here are some of the names that you will need to refamiliar yourself with before kickoff on Sunday.
QB-No. 14 Andy Dalton
The Red Rifle (not a fan of his own nickname) does not have a winning record (3-7) or a very high completion percentage (58.39%) against the Steelers in ten starts. What he does have is one of the best receivers in the game in the form of AJ Green and he knows how to find him early and often. Dalton, who was sacked seven times last week, still managed to have a decent game last week while picking up the win. Dalton leads the NFL with 12.20 yards per attempt. The Steelers, who registered zero sacks against Washington, will need to force him to step up in the pocket and disrupt his synchronicity with No. 18.
RB- No. 32 Jeremy Hill
The third-year back from LSU had a devestatng football-moment when these two franchises last met. When Ryan Shazier's mammoth hit knocked the ball out of Hill's clutches it helped slam the door on the Cincy Super Bowl hopes. Obviously looking for redemption, Hill was all-business in the opener against the Jets. Gone was his celebration of every single gain. After his touchdown, he handed the ball off to an official and shook the hand of all of his lineman. Cincinnati fans don't care about his demeanor after rushes, as long as the 2016 version of their power runner doesn't take the same step backward that he did in his sophomore campaign last year. With one more carry last year than 2014, his rushing yards decreased by 330 yards and 1.5 less yards per carry. Hill, who shares time with Giovani Bernard, averaged only 3.4 yards per carry, but his touchdown run was impressive against a stout Jets defense and he now has eight rushing TDs in his last nine games.
RB- No. 25 Giovani Bernard
Hill can probably hear the cleat-steps of Bernard. Gio averaged 4.6 yards a carry last year, but scored a mere two times vs. Hill's 11. Bernard is a dangerous receiving threat out of the backfield, grabbing 49 balls for 479 yards. Bernard, too, has also suffered the wrath of Shazier. No. 50 forced a fumble and knocked Bernard out of the game with a monstrous hit late in the WC game.
WR- No. 18 A.J. Green
Short and sweet. Adriel Jeremiah Green is pretty amazing. If his three favorite spaces on the calendar aren't his birthday, Christmas and Pittsburgh....I would be shocked. In his career against his AFC North foes, the Georgia alum has 69 catches for 937 yards and six scores. Darelle Revis shadowed Green all over the field last week and surrendered 180 yards. The Steelers typically keep their defensive backs from doing that. Ross Cockrell will draw the A.J. assignment on the outside. Last week Cockrell only surrendered 36 yards on four completions. Rookie Sean Davis, who mans the slot, gave up catches 83% of the time he was thrown against. Green may be lining up in the slot more often than he did last week, which was slightly over 33% of the time against the Jets.
RT- No. 70 Cedric Ogbuehi
Pronouncing Cedric's last name (o-Bway-hee) is tough. Will the prospect of facing him be tougher? Ogbuehi was drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft and has struggled with injuries so far. He's still very green and is only playing in his seventh game as a pro. Anthony Chickillo and Arthur Moats may find opportunity against Ogbuehi and come after him early and often.
DT- No. 97 Geno Atkins
Atkins is elite at his position. When healthy, which he was last year, Geno is dominant. Atkins game is one of penetration and dismantling plays in the backfield. Last season, No. 97 tallied 11 sacks, 82 pressures and 16 tackles for either no-gain or a loss. Atkins plays on both the left and right side equally. Ramon Foster and Dave DeCastro will need to bring out whatever is above an A-game to keep Atkins at bay.
CB- No. 24 Adam "Pac Man" Jones
Jones is still probably opening thank you notes from Pittsburgh after his playoff meltdown in January. I don't see him hugging Joey Porter before, after or during the game. Despite Dre Kirkpatrick limiting Antonio Brown last season, Pro Football Focus ranks him as the best that Cincy has to offer at CB. His ranking, however, is very close in equivalency to Bashaud Breeland who surrendered seven catches for 113 yards of Brown's output last Monday. Brown can also get in player's heads and I'm not sure of Pac Man's mental discipline.
Other Notable Names to look out for:
HC Marvin Lewis, OC Ken Zampese, DC Paul Guenther, No. 11 WR Brandon LaFell, No. 26 CB Josh Shaw, No. 27 CB Dre Kirkpatrick, No. 36 S Shawn Williams, No. 43 S George Iloka, No. 56 LB Karlos Dansby, No. 57 LB Vincent Rey, No. 58 LB Rey Maualuga, No. 68 G Kevin Zeitler, No. 77 Andrew Whitworth, No. 83 WR Tyler Boyd, No. 87 TE C.J. Uzomah, No. 90 DE Michael Johnson, No. 94 DT Domata Peko, No. 96 DE Carlos Dunlap
Former and Familiar Faces to Steeler Nation:
HC Marvin Lewis