Back on October 22, The Steelers prevailed 29-14 at Heinz Field. Of the 96 games played in history between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, the Steelers have been on the winning side 61 times. That numbers includes two playoff victories.
The Steelers have scored 40 or more points four times—the high being 49 points on November 19, 1995 when the Black and Gold won 49-31. Another 16 games saw Pittsburgh scoring 30 or more. The Steelers have never been shut out in this series, But, they have kept the Bengals off the board twice.
Cincinnati has put up 40 or more on Pittsburgh twice—in 1988 and 1989—scoring 41 and 42 points, respectively. They have scored 30 or more only eight times since 1970. Pittsburgh won the very first meeting—in 1970 on November 2—by a 21-10 margin.
In the last nine meetings, Pittsburgh has won eight—including five in a row. One of those five meetings was a playoff victory last January. The Steelers won six in a row from 1974 to 1977 as well. They even won eight in a row from 1991 through 1994. Another five in a row for the Steelers came from season 2006 until the end of the 2008 season. That streak began with the 2006 playoff victory by—which ultimately ended with the Steelers winning their fifth Super Bowl.
Cincinnati did win six in a row from September 18, 1988 until December 2, 1990, however. And several times, they have won four in row. But after an 0-3 start, the Bengals are 5-3 since. They have a legitimate shot as a wild card now. But, it would take a miracle and a collapse by Pittsburgh to have a shot at retaking the AFC North. Pittsburgh has won six in a row and stands at 9-2—tied for the AFC’s best overall record.
When the Steelers have the ball: Antonio Brown is nursing a sore toe, so he is listed as questionable for Monday night. The passing game has become Pittsburgh’s most dangerous attack. But, the Cincinnati Bengals rank fifth overall in passing defense. So throwing on them will be a challenge for Ben Roethlisberger. When not throwing, obviously it is Le’Veon Bell who will be toting the rock.
Many Steelers fans are aware of the history between these two teams, of course. It includes what many deem as “dirty” hits. Vontaze Burfict has gained a reputation for this by putting Bell out of the playoffs last season. Bell is back to 100 percent now, however. And after Burfict kicked Roosevelt Nix in their first meeting this season, he criticized the Bengals linebacker for that action on Twitter by saying:
“man dude gotta go man..that’s not football AT ALL!!”
Of course, Burfict responded by saying:
“I don’t worry about it. People that are still talking after the game, and they won. Congratulations to them. Obviously, you must be scared of me.”
Haven’t we had enough of this clown? He should have been thrown out of the NFL years ago for his dirty play. My hope is that Bell runs for 200 yards on these idiots. Bell’s best game ever facing Cincinnati came in 2014 when he rushed for 185 yards—averaging 7.12 yards per run. He also scored two touchdowns in that contest as Pittsburgh won 42-21. In their first meeting this season, Bell ran for 134 yards.
So, expect the Steelers to do what they’ve been doing all season: mixing it up on offense and challenging the Bengals to stop the passing attack. The Bengals are 13th overall on defense but a low 28th against the run. Therefore, they should see plenty of Bell.
When the Bengals have the ball: No one is talking much about the troubles rookie Joe Mixon had while in college. But, he is hardly having a spectacular first season in the NFL as he leads Cincinnati in rushing with just 484 yards. He has scored four touchdowns and is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry. The Bengals running attack is very weak and so their big weapon—as it has been in the past several seasons—remains A.J. Green. He is the leading receiver with 809 yards.
The Bengals will be challenged once again to produce anything on offense. Meanwhile, they’re facing a unit that is ranked fourth in overall defense, fourth against the pass and sixth against the rush. The first time around, the Steelers won. But their defense has improved greatly since then. Mike Hilton has come into his own and will finish the season as the best free agent acquisition Pittsburgh made before the season began.
Intangibles: The Pittsburgh Steelers love themselves some nationally television football. They have the third best winning percentage on Monday Night Football winning at a clip of 64 percent. 67 games later and 44 wins, they shine under the lights on Monday. Their last appearance was the Monday opener last season when they defeated the Washington Redskins.
For the Bengals, they have only played in 32 of these contests and have lost 22 off them. Their last MNF appearance came on December 28, 2015 when they were edged by the Denver Broncos, 20-17. Their inaugural appearance was that first meeting between the and the Steelers on November 2, 1970. The one that saw Pittsburgh won 21-10.
Prediction: You know the Bengals are going to be coming for the Black and Gold. I don’t believe the Steelers will ever look past any team and ahead to another opponent on the schedule (the Patriots in this case). But, Pittsburgh simply has too many weapons.
Final: Steelers 34, Bengals 17
An original version of this article first appeared on Harv Aronson’s site. You can view his site here.