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Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals GameDay Preview

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Steeler Nation is a world-wide army that follows the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers. The Six-Time Super Bowl Champions are a franchise whose tradition dictates a standard of excellence, and their fans expect nothing less year in and year out. Those very same ideals translate to the ultimate Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day Preview, a guide that all Steelers fans read weekly to learn everything they need to know about their team and weekly opponent!

Mike Drakulich, the man behind Pittsburgh SportsNation (@PghSportsNation), who covers both Pitt football and the Steelers for NGSC Sports, brings you inside the huddle for both teams providing all NFL fans with The PSN Game Commentary, Score Prediction, Broadcast Information, and a complete breakdown of each team.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) vs Cincinnati Bengals (8-6)

 

NFL Week 16

Vegas line: Cincinnati -3

Game-time: Saturday, December 23rd, at 4:30 PM

Venue: Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA.

  • Field: Kentucky Blue Grass

Weather at kickoff: 

 

The Pittsburgh SportsNation Game Commentary

The carousel at quarterback continues for the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) as Mason Rudolph will get his first start of the year with Kenny Pickett still out, and Mitch Trubisky playing his usual brand of substandard ball.

With three games remaining, the Steelers, currently on a three game losing streak, host the resurgent Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) at Acrisure Stadium this Saturday at 4:30 PM.

Since the last time these two teams met, each team has gone in the complete opposite direction.

Amazingly, despite the free-fall, Pittsburgh still has their slim hopes alive for a playoff berth, and a win over the Bengals, which would give them the tiebreaker over Cincinnati, would go a long way in keeping the team in the hunt for the last two games vs Seattle and Baltimore.

The way this team is playing, there is a better chance of hell freezing over than that occurring.

Steelers defensive star T.J. Watt is hopeful Rudolph can lead the Steeler’s sleigh Saturday night.

The guy goes out there and does every single warmup routine he’s done since he’s been here,” said Watt of Rudolph. “He’s acted like he’s the starter as far as how he practices and approaches the game. I know he’d love to get more reps but never seen him complain about it. I’m excited for him to get to show himself again on the big stage. I know it must be frustrating to put in all of the work and not get an opportunity. For him to get an opportunity will be awesome to see.”

As Hans Gruber once said in the ultimate Christmas movie Die Hard, “It’s Christmas, Theo, it’s the time for miracles.”

A miracle it will take, as not many expect the offense to play much better with Rudolph under center, and especially with players like wide receiver George Pickens deciding which plays he’s going to fully participate in till the whistle is blown.

It gets even worse on defense, as the injuries keep mounting by the week. Already down their starting inside linebackers, Pittsburgh will face the Bengals without their top four safeties, as Keanu Neal (IR), Damontae Kazee (suspended), Minkah Fitzpatrick (knee), and Trenton Thompson (neck) are all out, and will rely on veteran Eric Rowe, who was promoted from the practice squad, and Patrick Peterson, who will move over from corner.

As for Pickens, who was once again caught watching a play instead of joining it, as he stood there and didn’t attempt to help out Jaylen Warren with a block near the goal line that could have lead to a touchdown, even Bengals players are taking shots at Pickens for his laziness.

“It just shows the lack of camaraderie that’s over there,” said wide receiver Tyler Boyd, a Pittsburgh born kid that also played at Pitt. “I can’t really talk for anybody, but when things ain’t going well, you’ve still got to perform at a high level and do what you can to help your team. … When things ain’t going good, that’s when your true colors show. I like to be the same player week in, week out, whether it’s going good or bad for me.”

The standard is apparently the standard, when it comes to any discipline from head coach Mike Tomlin.

“He’s got talents. We want to utilize them,” said Tomlin.

It would be swell if Pickens decided to use those talents on every play.

At least one Steelers player showed some fire from Boyd’s comments, and it was no surprise as to who had that response.

“He (Boyd) wouldn’t know. He’s not in the locker room. So his opinion really doesn’t matter,” rookie corner Joey Porter, Jr. said. “He’s got a misread on the whole situation. He’s not in the locker room. It’s all outside.”

The Bengals won’t look anything like the team Pittsburgh defeated 16-10 a month ago.

QB Jake Browning, playing with a team with a real NFL offensive system and coaches that help improve their players, has carried the Bengals on his back with Joe Burrow out for the season. Once thought dead in the water, the Bengals are primed to cause some noise in the playoffs if they take care of business Saturday.

Browning won’t have it that easy, as his top receiver in JaMarr Chase will be out with a back injury. That means Boyd and Tee Higgins will be the primary pass catchers for Browning, with a healthy dose of Joe Mixon running the ball well of late, and also utilizing his playmaking ability catching passes on checkdowns from Browning.

Another weapon has developed of late for Cincinnati, that being running back Chase Brown, who has added 109 yards on the ground during the Bengals winning streak, and has six receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown in the last two.

Perhaps a few connections deep downfield by Rudolph could open up the ground game behind Najee Harris and Warren, as the Bengals are the 30th ranked defense in total yards allowed, giving up 382.4 yards per game, and 128.3 on the ground. It was these very same Bengals that this Steelers offense topped the 400 yard mark for the first time in 59 games.

It looks as if Pickett is a week away from returning from the line-up, and if he had been good to go this week, I think he would have given the Steelers a chance in this one, but with so many injuries, undisciplined play, and a team that looks like it has quit on their coach, it’s more likely that Steelers fans will be getting a lump of coal as their gift late Saturday evening.

Prediction: Bengals 23 Steelers 16

 

 

Broadcast Information

 

TV: NBC (Local: WPXI-TV channel 811 on Xfinity)

  • Announcers: Noah Eagle (play-by-play) Todd Blackledge (analyst) | Kathryn Tappen (field reporter)

Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM & 970 WBGG-AM

  • Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Craig Wolfley (analyst) | Max Starks (sideline) Missi Matthews (sideline)

National Radio: Westwood One Sports

  • Announcers: Mike Watts (play-by-play) Mike Mayock (analyst)

Internet broadcast: Steelers Nation Radio (SNR) on Steelers.com

NFL Links

 

Scouting the Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Overall record: 7-7 (4th in AFC North)

Last Game: Colts 30 Steelers 13

Head Coach: Mike Tomlin

  • 17th Season with Steelers
  • Overall regular-season record: 170-100-2
  • Playoff record: 8-9 (Qualified for playoffs 10 times)

Team Links

 

Steelers Offense

 

Offensive Stats

  • Points per game: 16.2 (27th)
  • Total yards per game: 307.6 (27th)
  • Passing yards per game: 194.8 (30th)
  • Rushing yards per game: 112.8 (15th)

 

QUARTERBACK

Mason Rudolph | #2

Rudolph gets his chance to see if he can get the Steelers back on track. Rudolph has a good deep ball, but often makes mistakes when pressured. Not as mobile as either Kenny Pickett or Mitch Trubisky, so could be under siege all day from a decent Bengals pass rush.

Passing Yards: 3 | TD Passes: 0 | INT’s: 0 | Sacked: 1

Rushing Yards: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0

 

Back-up: Mitch Trubisky | #10

Passing Yards: 632 | TD Passes: 4 | INT’s: 5 | Sacked: 7

Rushing Yards: 54 | Rushing TD’s: 2

 

RUNNING BACKS

Najee Harris | #22

Harris and Warren have formed a solid one-two punch in the Steelers rushing attack. Harris has looked strong and assertive when given the chance to run the ball in the 2nd half of the season.

Rushing Yards: 723 | Rushing TD’s: 4

Receptions: 24 | Receiving Yards: 149 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Jaylen Warren | #30

Warren always finds a way to hit the hole and get positive yardage, and has become a major weapon both running the ball and catching passes out of the backfield. 

Rushing Yards: 652 | Rushing TD’s: 3

Receptions: 47 | Receiving Yards: 300 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Diontae Johnson | #18

Johnson was Pickett’s favorite target since returning from injury, but inconsistencies have plagued his career, including untimely dropped passes and constantly running backwards after catches. Leads the team with four touchdown catches.

Receptions: 41 | Receiving Yards: 537 | Receiving TD’s: 4

 

George Pickens | #14

Pickens leads the team with 52 receptions for 814 yards, but hasn’t been the sharpest route runner. Pickens has plenty of talent, but his laziness and attitude have been highlighted several times with him taking plays off and not playing to the whistle.

Receptions: 52 | Receiving Yards: 814 | Receiving TD’s: 3

 

Allen Robinson II | #11

Robinson hasn’t made much of an impact as the team thought he would when signed in the off-season, but in this offense, who could?

Receptions: 30 | Receiving Yards: 244 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Calvin Austin III | #19

The shifty receiver could be utilized in a variety of ways in a competent offense, but… perhaps with Canada gone, the team will find a way to get him the ball in space. Get this guy the ball with some middle crossing routes!

Receptions: 17 | Receiving Yards: 180 | Receiving TD’s: 1

Rushing Yards: 30

 

Miles Boykin | #13

Receptions: 2 | Receiving Yards: 11 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 

TIGHT ENDS

Pat Freiermuth | #88

Could be a top tight end in this league if he was on a team that knew how to run a competent offense. 

Receptions: 27 | Receiving Yards: 243 | Receiving TD’s: 2

 

Conner Heyward | #83

Heyward makes the most of his opportunities when thrown to.

Receptions: 21 | Receiving Yards: 163 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Darnell Washington | #80

The world awaits “Mount” Washington to be utilized in the Steelers passing attack, especially in the red zone. Washington has become a devastating blocker in the run game.

Receptions: 6 | Receiving Yards: 53 | Receiving TD’s: 0

*Injured/Out

 

Steelers Defense (Base 3-4)

 

Defensive Stats

  • Points per game allowed: 19.2 (7th)
  • Total offense yards per game allowed: 344.9 (21st)
  • Passing yards allowed: 226.9 (21st)
  • Rushing yards allowed: 117.9 (21st)
  • Sacks: 36 (14th)
  • Interceptions: 13 (4th)

 

DEFENSIVE LINE

DT: Cam Heyward | #97

Tackles: 30 | Sacks: 2

NT: Keeanu Benton | #95

Tackles: 33 | Sacks: 1

DE: Larry Ogunjobi | #99

Tackles: 37 | Sacks: 3

 

LINEBACKERS

OLB: T.J. Watt | #90

Tackles: 55 | Sacks: 16 | INT: 1 | TD: 1

ILB: Mykal Walker | #38

Tackles: 22 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 1

ILB: Elandon Roberts | #50

Tackles: 95 | Sacks: 2.5

OLB: Alex Highsmith | #56

Tackles: 53 | Sacks: 6 | INT: 1 | TD: 1

 

SECONDARY

CB: Joey Porter, Jr. | #24             

Tackles: 39 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 1

FS: Eric Rowe | #25

Tackles: 0 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 0

SS: Miles Killebrew | #28

Tackles: 4 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 0

CB: Patrick Peterson | #20 

Tackles: 36 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 1

 

Steelers Special Teams

 

PLACEKICKER

Chris Boswell | #9 

Extra Points: 18-19

Field Goals: 23-25

  • 1-19 yards: 0-0
  • 20-29 yards: 6-6
  • 30-39 yards: 5-5
  • 40-49 yards: 7-8
  • 50+ yards: 5-6

 

KICKOFF RETURNER

Anthony McFarland, Jr. | #26

Average: 27.3 | TD Returns: 0

Godwin Igwebuike | #48

Average: 25.1 | TD Returns: 0

 

PUNT RETURNER

Calvin Austin III | #19

Average: 6.6 | TD Returns: 0

 

Scouting the Cincinnati Bengals

 

Overall record: 8-6 (3rd in AFC North)

Last game: Bengals 27 Vikings 24 OT

Head Coach: Zac Taylor

  • 4th Season with Cincinnati
  • Overall regular-season record: 36-42
  • Playoff Record: 5-2

Team Links

 

BENGALS OFFENSE

Offensive Stats

  • Points per game: 21.9 (14th)
  • Total Offense per game: 337.9 (21st)
  • Passing yards per game: 253.5 (11th)
  • Rushing yards per game: 84.4 (31st)

 

QUARTERBACK

Jake Browning | #6

Browning has grown tenfold since the Steelers last saw him a few weeks ago. He has been sharp and accurate with his throws, and likes to hit his backs when his options downfield fail. He’s not Joe Burrow, but he’s taking this team on his back and has them headed towards the playoffs.

Passing Yards: 1,248 | TD Passes: 7 | INT’s: 3 | Sacked: 13

Rushing Yards: 77 | Rushing TD’s: 2

 

Back-up: A.J. McCarron | #4

Passing Yards: -1 | TD Passes: 0 | INT’s: 0 | Sacked: 0

Rushing Yards: 0 | Rushing TD’s: 0

 

RUNNING BACKS

Joe Mixon | #28

Mixon is the top back for the Bengals, leading the team with 815 yards, but the team is averaging just 84.4 yards a game on the ground. Still a threat out of the backfield catching passes, ranking 3rd on the team with 45 receptions. 

Rushing Yards: 815 | Rushing TD’s: 8

Receptions: 45 | Receiving Yards: 341 | TD’s: 1

 

Chase Brown | #30

Has become a favorite of Browning on check-downs. 

Rushing Yards: 115 | Rushing TD’s: 0

Receptions: 9 | Receiving Yards: 115 | Receiving TD’s: 1

 

Trayveon Williams | #32

Rushing Yards: 69 | Rushing TD’s: 0

Receptions: 7 | Receiving Yards: 10 | Receiving TD’s: 0

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Ja’Marr Chase* | #1

Chase is one of the top receiving threats in the league, but is out this week with an injury.

Receptions: 93 | Receiving Yards: 1.156 | Receiving TD’s: 7

 

Tee Higgins | #5

Higgins could be a #1 receiver on many teams, and he will get his chance to showcase his talents with JaMarr Chase ruled out in this game.

Receptions: 36 | Receiving Yards: 497 | Receiving TD’s: 4

 

Tyler Boyd | #83

Boyd, the former Pittsburgh native and Pitt alum, is 2nd on the team with 59 receptions. Will see plenty of looks with Chase out.

Receptions: 59 | Receiving Yards: 575 | Receiving TD’s: 2

 

Trenton Irwin | #16

Receptions: 18 | Receiving Yards: 241 | Receiving TD’s: 1

 

Andrei Iosivas | #80

Receptions: 6 | Receiving Yards: 44 | Receiving TD’s: 2

 

TIGHT ENDS

Tanner Hudson | #87

Receptions: 33 | Receiving Yards: 298 | Receiving TD’s: 1  

 

Irv Smith, Jr. | #81

Receptions: 18 | Receiving Yards: 115 | Receiving TD’s: 1  

 

Drew Sample | #89

Receptions: 14 | Receiving Yards: 97 | Receiving TD’s: 2  

*Injured/out

 

BENGALS DEFENSE (Base 4-3) 

Defensive Stats

  • Points per game allowed: 22.2 (20th)
  • Total offense yards per game allowed: 382.4 (30th)
  • Passing yards allowed: 254.2 (27th)
  • Rushing yards allowed: 128.3 (16th)
  • Sacks: 38 (16th)
  • Interceptions: 15 (3rd)

 

DEFENSIVE LINE 

DE: Sam Hubbard | #94

Tackles: 50 | Sacks: 5

DT: D.J. Reader | #98

Tackles: 36 | Sacks: 1

DT: B.J. Hill | #92

Tackles: 36 | Sacks: 4 | INT: 2

DE: Trey Hendrickson | #91

Tackles: 37 | Sacks: 15

 

LINEBACKERS

OLB: Logan Wilson | #55

Tackles: 114 | Sacks: 1 | INT: 3

MLB: Germaine Pratt | #57

Tackles: 111 | Sacks: 2 | INT: 2

OLB: Akeem Davis-Gaither | #59

Tackles: 9 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 0

 

SECONDARY

CB: Chidobe Awuzie | #22

Tackles: 48 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 0

SS: Nick Scott | #33

Tackles: 54 | Sacks: 0 | INT: 0

FS: Dax Hill | #23

Tackles: 92 | Sacks: 1.5 | INT: 2

CB: Mike Hilton | #21

Tackles: 56 | Sacks: 1 | INT: 2

 

BENGALS SPECIAL TEAMS

PLACEKICKER

Evan McPherson | #7

Extra Points: 34-34

Field Goals: 23-28

  • 1-19 yards: 0-0
  • 20-29 yards: 5-5
  • 30-39 yards: 4-4
  • 40-49 yards: 7-7
  • 50+ yards: 7-12

 

KICKOFF RETURNER

Trayveon Williams | #32

Average: 24.2 | TD Returns: 0

 

PUNT RETURNER

Charlie Jones | #15

Average: 11.9 | TD Returns: 1

 

 

Steelers vs Bengals History

 

Series History: Began in 1970

Overall Record: 69-39

  • Home: 35-18
  • Away: 34-21
  • Postseason: 2-0

Streak: Steelers won the last game.

Last regular-season meeting: Steelers Win, 16-10 (Nov. 26, 2023)

Last postseason meeting: Steelers Win, 21-18 (Jan. 15, 2006)

 

Injury Report (12/21/23)

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

IR: S Keanu Neal

Out: FS Minkah Fitzpatrick (knee), SS Damonte Kazee (suspended), QB Kenny Pickett (ankle), S Trenton Thompson (Neck)

Doubtful: None

Questionable: S Elijah Riley** (Ankle)

 

Cincinnati Bengals

IR: QB Joe Burrow

Out: WR JaMarr Chase (back)

Doubtful: None

Questionable: None

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About Post Author

Mike Drakulich

From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team. There's nowhere on earth that is more dedicated to its sports teams like Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. The passion and pride of Pittsburgh's fan base is second to no one. From the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, to W.P.I.A.L. high school sports, "The City of Champions" has it all! As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL High School Football. For a refreshing view of sports, mixed with humor and uncensored opinions, check out Pittsburgh SportsNation today on Facebook, Twitter @PghSportsNation and videos with over 1,000,000 views on YouTube!
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Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.

There's nowhere on earth that is more dedicated to its sports teams like Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. The passion and pride of Pittsburgh's fan base is second to no one. From the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, to W.P.I.A.L. high school sports, "The City of Champions" has it all!

As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL High School Football.

For a refreshing view of sports, mixed with humor and uncensored opinions, check out Pittsburgh SportsNation today on Facebook, Twitter @PghSportsNation and videos with over 1,000,000 views on YouTube!
author

Mike Drakulich

From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team. There's nowhere on earth that is more dedicated to its sports teams like Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. The passion and pride of Pittsburgh's fan base is second to no one. From the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, to W.P.I.A.L. high school sports, "The City of Champions" has it all! As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL High School Football. For a refreshing view of sports, mixed with humor and uncensored opinions, check out Pittsburgh SportsNation today on Facebook, Twitter @PghSportsNation and videos with over 1,000,000 views on YouTube!

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