The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off their biggest win of the season, a 19-13 win over the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, but their next opponent will likely give them problems, as is always the case.
When the Cincinnati Bengals come to Heinz Field for their first of two matchups in 2017, they will be looking for their third straight win, coming off their early bye week.
These two teams, and fan bases, despise one another, and this isn’t a secret. There are questionable hits, defense-dominated contests and big plays which likely result in the outcome of the game. All of this, and more, make picking the winner for these divisional games even more difficult.
Despite the hatred between the two teams, one thing never changes when it comes to picking football games. The team who wins in “the trenches” almost always wins the game. Which offensive line will protect and impose their will on the opposition? And which defensive line will wreak havoc in the backfield?
The Steelers will be without Marcus Gilbert, but should have an intact offensive line otherwise, and this will be key against a very good defensive line anchored by Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and rookie Carl Lawson. These two units might negate one another, but the Steelers’ defensive line, even without Stephon Tuitt, should be able to dominate a very mundane offensive line for Cincinnati.
With all that said, I don’t see the Bengals getting much going offensively against the Steelers defense, and if the unit can prevent the big play, something they have struggled with this season, they should be able to keep the Bengals’ offense in check. On the flip side, if the Steelers can get Le’Veon Bell going, forcing Cincinnati to put a safety in the box, it will be lights out to either Martavis Bryant or Antonio Brown.
While some might suggest this is a trap game for Pittsburgh, coming off their big win in Week 6, I say the Bengals are the perfect opponent. Nothing gets the Steelers’ attention quite like the Bengals.
When the dust finally settles, I see the Steelers coming away victorious in a hard fought game and a late game push by Andy Dalton and company.
Steelers - 24
Bengals - 20