Cincinnati Bengals-Pittsburgh Steelers preview: Keys to game and who will win

By Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. File photo Laurence Kesterson/UPI
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. File photo Laurence Kesterson/UPI | License Photo

Cincinnati Bengals (6-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) - NFL game preview

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh - TV: CBS


*TV announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn

*Keys to the game: All the ingredients are in place for an entertaining shootout. The Bengals are coming off a bye, own the league's fifth-best passing attack and QB Andy Dalton hung 546 yards and four touchdowns on Pittsburgh in two meetings last season. Not to be outdone, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who makes his return from a four-game absence due to a knee injury, lit Cincinnati up for 667 yards and five touchdowns in those games.

The question with Dalton is always about how he will stack up in marquee games, and this one certainly qualifies. The Steelers do enter with the league's 27th-ranked pass defense and a banged up secondary, so Dalton will have plenty of opportunities - as long as he avoids turnovers.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger will not be limited, and speed isn't exactly his top asset to begin with. The Bengals can get after the quarterback - 17 sacks in six games, led by Carlos Dunlap's 6.5 - so RB Le'Veon Bell is likely to be heavily involved as a runner and receiver, especially to give Roethlisberger some time to knock off any rust and gain confidence in his timing downfield.


*Matchup to watch - Bengals P Kevin Huber vs. Steelers WR Antonio Brown: Brown is averaging a modest 8.9 yards per punt return this season, but all three of his career punt returns for touchdowns have come against the Bengals - and all of them have come at Heinz Field. Huber is fourth in the NFL with a 43.1-yard net average, and will do his best to angle Brown toward the sideline.

*Player spotlight - Steelers TE Heath Miller: Much was made of how much WR Antonio Brown missed Roethlisberger, but Miller was limited to four catches in the four games the quarterback missed after catching 12 passes through the first three games of the season.

*Fast facts: The Bengals are 3-0 for the third time in franchise history and the first time since their 1988 AFC title team. ... This is the first of three consecutive home games for Pittsburgh. ... Steelers WR Martavis Bryant is the sixth player in NFL history to score 11-plus touchdowns through his first 12 career games.


Heinz Field is always a tough environment and while the Bengals are well-rested, the Steelers are desperate to stay in the AFC North race. QB Ben Roethlisberger makes his return, but it's the versatility of RB Le'Veon Bell that proves the difference maker.


*Our pick: Steelers 33-28.

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