Can’t We Just Get Along?

Intriguing Game- Week Six

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

Steelers: One week, they are strong and the next week, they don’t even bother to show up and to be honest, I’m beginning to lose faith in them because of the inconsistency they’ve shown this year. However, last week may have been the turning point for them against the Falcons and I know you’re probably reading this and saying to yourself “give it a break Simpson, they beat the Falcons who aren’t that good this year”. Yes, that may be true, but if you watch the five games that the Steelers have played this year, this was their best victory of the year and it was definitely a team win because they dominated on both sides of the football and this was the best I’ve seen the defense look all season long. There’s still a lot of work to do if they want to get back into the race of the AFC. If you look at the division, it’s really an interesting race and all four teams are in it (for now). The one thing that’s really impressed me with the Steelers has been the success of James Conner and he looks more comfortable now as their starting running back then he did in the first two weeks of the season. He isn’t Le’Veon Bell, but he’s added his own dynamic to their offense as a runner and receiver out the backfield. On defense, they got back to the basics. They sacked Matt Ryan six times and they held one of the best receivers in the league under 100 yards receiving. It’s one thing when it’s Ravens week, but I think Bengals week is a bit more “intriguing” as they say.

Bengals: That was a gutsy win for them last Sunday against the Dolphins. They were down for a majority of the game and found a way to fight back and turned things on when it mattered most. The defense received a boost from the return of Vontaze Burfict. He didn’t play much, but his presence was definitely felt and the Bengals defense made life miserable for Ryan Tannehill and they created turnovers. Here’s another fun fact, they scored the game’s final 27 points and held on to stay in first place in the AFC North with Baltimore losing in Cleveland. Despite the hot start, I just can’t sell myself to them because they always seem to do this. They get off to some quick starts, they win games to make you think they’re legit and they cruise through the regular season but when it comes to January when it matters the most, they fold and don’t show up. So to answer the question that I’ve received about them throughout the year: I think they are clearly the best team in their division and if everything continues to roll for them, they’ll win the division once again under Marvin Lewis. I think people tend to forget their offense has one of the elite tandems in Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. They’ve connected for five touchdowns this year with more coming I’m sure. They’re looking to extend their lead in the division on Sunday with a team they know all too well coming to town.

Steelers Player To Watch: Bud Dupree– Last week on Twitter, I said if the Steelers defense wants to get back to playing the football they’re known to play, this guy has to be on top of his game. He can be the difference maker and the leader not just of that front seven, but of the entire defense. He and T.J. Watt can become an elite duo of pass rushers.

Bengals Player To Watch: Tyler Boyd– Let’s be real here, John Ross hasn’t panned out as many thought he would then again, he’s still developing. This guy has stepped up and given Andy Dalton another target outside of A.J. Green and he’s impressed. He’s always open and with A.J. seeing a lot of Joe Haden (who’s known to shut him down) on Sunday, I see Tyler having a big game.

Final Analysis: It’s one thing when the Steelers and Ravens play, but if you want to be real about things, they actually have a mutual respect for one another. These two teams, not so much. They absolutely hate each other and when they play, you see many extra flags thrown and guys wanting to take each other’s heads off. Expect this game to be a hard-hitting one and a close battle at that. If I’m Pittsburgh, I’m attacking the Bengals run defense early one and feeding James the football. Let him get his carries and move the chains. The Bengals defense needs to come ready to play. You can’t show up for just one half and expect to win each time.

Prediction: Bengals 31 Steelers 27