11/21/19-Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

By: Mike Pelaia

The Steelers find themselves in a not so envious position as they head to Cincinnati this week to take on the winless Bengals.  At 5-5, the black and gold are in must win mode and the Bengals are looking to play spoilers.

All the talk this week has been centered around the melee between Mason Rudolph and Myles Garrett and my first concern is if that is causing a distraction to the team, most importantly to Rudolph.

Rudolph is coming off his worst game as a pro (albeit in a very short career thus far) and cannot afford to play that poorly again this season, should this team want a chance at the postseason. 

Without Maurkice Pouncey, the offensive line is going to need to step up and protect their young quarterback, something they seemed unable to do last week in Cleveland.  Rudolph already looks scared and doesn’t seem to be able to sense a collapsing pocket very quickly, his line needs to give him extra protection this week to help him out.  The Bengals will be blitzing and Rudolph will need to anticipate it.

At this point in the season, Randy Fichtner needs to allow Rudolph to audible.  There were times in Cleveland where the Steelers attempted to run the ball with nine Browns stuffing the box.  There is no opportunity for success in those situations, yet the play stayed as called.  Either Rudolph doesn’t know how to audible or he’s not allowed to. Either way, something needs to change this week.

The Bengals will stuff the box and will force Rudolph to beat them.  The good news for the Steelers is Benny Snell will be back in action this week and I think he can be a big play back. With James Conner out, yet again, Snell will need to be the guy that controls the clock.  If Snell can get some big runs, the passing game will be better off.

Rudolph will hopefully utilize guys like Vance McDonald in the intermediate passing attack and James Washington and Diontae Johnson further down field.

Defensively, it’s all about rattling Ryan Finley. With the blitz the Steelers have, they can force Finley to beat them by stuffing the box and not allowing big plays from running back Joe Mixon.

I also think the Steelers will key on Tyler Boyd as I suspect Finely is going to force the ball his way, providing an opportunity for some turnovers to lead to field position changes for the black and gold.

Should the Steelers control the clock on offense and stuff the run on defense, they’ll have a fruitful day.  I don’t think the offense will put the ball in the end zone however and they’ll need to rely on the defense to produce turnovers, flip the field and let Chris Boswell do his thing.


Steelers  15  Bengals  10


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