OK, enough of the Bears. Coulda woulda shoulda won, hopefully a wakeup call, we roll into Cinci as the Pissedburgh Steelers.
Cinci had the 12th-ranked D in terms of yardage allowed in 2008, and their D really fucked up Rodgers last week. But let's not forget that they lost the laugher of the year against a really, really, really bad 2-0 Broncos team (who beat an even worse Browns team to stay "perfect").
Here's a good recap
of the Packers' woes againts the Bengals. If you recall, the Packers -- who IMO have a very explosive offense and a top OL -- barely got by the Bears, so don't feel too bad about the Choke in Chitown. But against the Bengals, the Pack really, literally fell apart. That OL was just a mess, and the offense suffered.
The Bengals could have caught us napping had we beaten the Bears, but not now, no way, no how. Bengals are a sexy pick, and you'll hear about their revamped D and the always hyperbolic gushing over their offense, but short of another meltdown we take this game and shove it down their throats. Everyone's pissed at how they did, not just Skippy. The D is frothy. The offense has something to prove. And Skip won't miss again any time soon.
Steelers O v. Bengals D: 2009 stats are incomplete thus far. Hard to judge the Bengals based on them shutting down a weak Broncos team, or our offense against two solid defenses. But as it stands, the Bengals rank 11th in yards allowed, 17th in pards per play, 8th in first downs allowed, 16th in passing yards allowed, 14th in YPA, 11th in rushing yards allowed, and 19th in YPC. All that looks distinctly middle of the pack, both in rush and pass defense.
Our offense, against better LOC, ranks 16th in yardage, 17th in yards per play, 10th in first downs, 8th in pass yardage, 28th in rushing yards, and 28th in YPC.
RDE Antwan Odom has 7 sacks so far this year (!), and the DL has been solid. I think our best running will be to go the other way, running right over LDE Robert Geathers. Right side runs were successful against the Bears and should be on Sunday, too. Like the Bears game, trying to fit FWP into an artificial running schedule (FWP, series 1 & 2; RM, series 3; MM, 3rd down and NH) is going to fail. Here is another matchup that favors using RM early and often, and then going with FWP later when the DL is gassed. BA won't do that so don't hold your breath.
Our real strength is going to be the passing game. They've got some athletic but green LBs and CBs, and if we go 3+ WR, which has been our most frequently used offensive set as well as the most successful, we can get some great matchups against their nickel and dime. Mixing up the playcalling wouldn't hurt, either, by getting out of the rush for nada, throw to get back to a makeable third, and then throw on third. More PAP on first, and even taking some early shots deep downfield would be welcome.
I'll be curious to see if Sweed plays, because I think he could have a nice game here. Holmes should be looking for some redemption, and just spreading the ball around to Wallace again will be a nice plus. (Wallace on the end-around? Please?) Ben's got lots of targets, and that includes Heath down the seam. That should be a constant connection, not one Arians uses early then abandons.
Ben will have an obligatory pick, but I think he will come up with a big passing day. The running game should do better than it actually will, but don't be surprised if it shows even more signs of thawing out. As we face progressively worse defenses, the running game will resemble something competent.
Bengals O v. Steelers D: Bengals have plenty of playmakers, but they still seem curiously out of synch, and Cedric Benson's revival ends here. Bengals are only 21st in overall yardage and 18th in yards per play, 23rd in passing yards, 14th in YPA, 12th in rushing yards, 19th in YPC. Steelers D is 9th in yardage allowed, 10th in yards per play, 19th in passing yards allowed, 14th in YPA, 8th in rushing yards allowed, 7th in YPC. Not our best body of work, to be sure.
Bengals are going to spread us out and exploit LB on WR matchups, and depth issues (Ty Carter). As in the previous two games, I expect an unheralded rookie to have a big day (Quan Cosby). If the Bengals control the flow of the passing game, Ocho, Miss Chris, and Andre Caldwell all present Cornhole Palmer solid options (Laveraneus looks... done?). We can't let that happen, and I think LeBeau will concentrate on two things, one of which is teeing up on Cornhole. I'm not a fan of the Bengals OL, and think LT Whitworth is better at OG, RT Collins is solid, but the entire middle should be pushed around by our guys. I'd really like to see LeBeau insert Ziggy a few more times and see if he can get some burst upfield on 3rd down. LaMarr Woodly had better damned well show up, and he should punish Collins, but it may be a draw. Harrison is going to kill Whitworth: wake up, time to die. Three sack day?
This is a good game to work Timmons's speed in over the middle more, since we're abysmally slow with Carter in there. Timmons would also be a huge threat to blitz, and frankly I'd like to see our corners playing closer to the LOS to see if they can catch Palmer napping on the corner blitz (let Timmons cover the hot).
Cedric Benson will carve out a few tentative early runs before Dick LeBeau sits on him. Force the offense to become one-dimensional, pin their ears back, rattle Cornhole, get turnovers.
STs: This should favor us, and hopefully we'll be winning the field position battle all day. Cosby and Caldwell are decent return guys, but I am really hoping Joystick Logan has a BIG, BIG, BIG breakout here.