The steaming Bengals have won their last three and show no signs of slowing down as they head to San Diego for an AFC game against the Chargers. In order for Cincinnati to continue rolling towards the playoffs, it's important that they win key matchups.
Andy Dalton and the offense average 31 points during this three-game win streak. During this time, Dalton has thrown nine TD and zero INT. Not only has the offense been prolific, but the defense has been potent as well. In the last three games, opposing offenses have only entered the red zone five times against the Bengals, resulting in only one touchdown.
After the Browns forced the Steelers into eight turnovers in their victory Week 12, the race for the AFC wild card between the Steelers and the Bengals swung optimistically into Cincinnati's favor. Roethlisberger will find a way to return to the field, however, there will come a point when the Steelers have to rely on Charlie Batch and I'm not sure he still has what it takes to pull through.
The timing of the Steelers being bitten by the injury bug couldn't have happened at a better time for Cincinnati. The morale and energy in Cincinnati is of optimism, hope and belief. I have to believe that people in Pittsburgh are unsure of their team's season at this point. I'm sure the locker room is united around whatever quarterback is chosen but no team can function at its best without a consistent leader.
Right now the Bengals locker room is focused on San Diego and winning a game that they should, in all estimations, win. In order for them to do so, here are the five key battles that they will need to win in order to leave San Diego victorious.