*No. 14 QB Andy Dalton
After a dreadful start to the season, "the Red Rifle" is starting to fire on all cylinders again. Dalton's bulls-eye is hitting No. 18 and he's done that quite a bit as of late. After starting the season with four picks in the opener against Baltimore, No. 14 has seven TDs vs. two interceptions since. Dalton has only three wins out of twelve games against the Steelers, but he's dangerous nonetheless. Playing behind a pourous offensive line may hinder the Bengals QB against a team that has twenty sacks so far.
Other Bengals Quarterbacks to Note: No. 5 A.J. McCarron
No. 28 RB Joe Mixon
After seeing Mixon on video punching a woman in the face, I couldn't help thinking that he would fit well in Cincinnati. Then they drafted him in the second round this year. Mixon started off slowly in the Queen City. However since seeing his rushing share increase from 41% to 66% in the last three games, Mixon is clearly the new top cat in the Bengals’ offense. Expect No. 28 to see a majority of the workload pounding the rock between the tackles against the Steelers. Mixon is averaging only 2.8 YPC, but he leads Bengals backs with 11 catches out of the backfield.
Other Bengals Running Backs to Note: *No. 32 Jeremy Hill, No. 25 Giovanni Bernard
*No. 18 WR A.J. Green
Two words describe Green...Steeler killer. In 11 games against the Black-and-gold, Green has 975 yards and six touchdowns. On the year, the six-time Pro Bowl selection has five TDs and 32 catches for 504 yards. The Steelers’ secondary has improved, but the 6'4" Green will be a true test to see how much they truly have.
Other Bengals Wide Receivers to Note: *No. 11 Brandon LaFell, No. 83 Tyler Boyd, No. 16 Cody Core, No. 15 John Ross
*No. 81 TE Tyler Kroft
Previously, the prospect of not facing Tyler Eifert was a gift to the Steelers’ defense. But Tyler Kroft has emerged as a weapon at tight end for OC Bill Lazor's offense. Kroft has 14 catches for an average of 9.9 per catch and two TDs. Just like Eifert (on IR for the remainder of the year), Kroft is 6'6" and emerging as a favorite target of Andy Dalton.
Other Bengals Tight Ends to Note: No. 87 C.J. Uzomah, No. 89 TE/HB Ryan Hewitt, No. 85 Tyler Eifert (IR)
*No. 70 LT Cedric Ogbuehi
The third-year starter might be the best player on an offensive line that has struggled in 2017. Ogbuehi struggled against the bull rush in 2016 on the right side and he’s still allowing defenders to get to Andy Dalton in 2017. A steady diet of T.J. Watt and James Harrison may bite Ogbuehi instead.
Other Bengals Offensive Linemen to Note: *No. 65 LG Clint Boling, *No. 61 C Russell Bodine, *No. 66 RG Trey Hopkins, *No. 74 RT Jake Fisher, No. 71 T Andre Smith, No. 63 G Christian Westerman, No. 60 C T.J. Johnson, No. 62 G Alex Redmond
*No. 97 DT Geno Atkins
Geno is absolutely dominant anywhere he lines up on the defensive line. Atkins game is one of penetration, disruption, dominance and dismantling plays in the backfield. In 2016, No. 97 had nine sacks and he has four already this season in only five games. A 5-time Pro Bowler, Atkins moves all around the line, so the Steelers’ pass-protectors will need to have their heads on swivels.
Other Bengals Defensive Linemen to Note: *No. 96 LDE Carlos Dunlap, *No. 92 NT Pat Sims, *No. 90 RDE Michael Johnson, No. 94 DE Chris Smith, No. 99 NT Andrew Billings, No. 98 DT Ryan Glasgow, No. 75 DE Jordan Willis
*No. 55 WLB Vontaze Burfict
Burfict was voted by BTSC readers as Public Enemy No. 1 of Steelers Nation. He has tallied attacks against Ben, Brown and Bell. But his attempt to go after David DeCastro's knees last year ended with Burfict seeing more stars than the Killer-Bs when No. 66 lowered his head and knocked him loopy last year. He plays with a brutish mentality that knows no boundaries. But he’s a thoroughly dominant presence at all times on defense and must always be accounted for. This season, Burfict has 19 combined tackles and a sack in two games. The Steelers need to be sure that Burfict doesn't wantonly inflict injury on their teammates, as he’s been known to attempt with some success. But that may be easier said than done.
Other Bengals Linebackers to Note: *No. 59 SLB Nick Vigil, **No. 51 MLB Kevin Minter, No. 58 SLB Carl Lawson, No. 57 MLB Vincent Rey, No. 50 Jordan Evans, No. 56 Hardy Nickerson Jr
*No. 27 LCB Dre' Kirkpatrick
Until 12/18 and the Week-15 game last year, Kirkpatrick had always played the Steelers well. In fact, he’s one of the few defensive backs that Antonio Brown has continually faced and fails to dominate. The Bengals, and mainly No. 27, have held Brown to 27 catches on 48 targets in their last-five meetings. But Kirkpatrick got flustered against Brown late and committed consecutive penalties. These two will tangle and scuffle frequently on Sunday. On his career, Dre has nine picks (one against the Steelers, but none this season so far.
Other Bengals Defensive Backs to Note: *No. 36 SS Shawn Williams, *No. 43 FS George Iloka, *No. 24 RCB Adam Jones, No. 26 CB Josh Shaw, No. 31 SS Derron Smith, No. 21 CB Darqueze Dennard, No. 22 CB William Jackson III, No. 20 CB KelVare Russell, No. 42 FS Clayton Fejedelem
*No. 12 PR/KR Alex Erickson
Erickson had five kick returns for 166 yards the last time these two teams met. Erickson is capable of breaking off a long one and the Steelers need to account for him.
Other Bengals Special Teamers to Note: *No. 10 P Kevin Huber, *No. 4 K Randy Bullock, PR No. 24 Adam Jones, PR No. 83 Tyler Boyd, KR No. 28 Joe Mixon