Geno Atkins will look to cause problems in the Steelers' backfield.
Heading into tonight's Monday Night Football matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers, both teams are looking to find the win column. Pittsburgh's key playmakers include Isaac Redman, who needs to find some room to run, but Geno Atkins and Cincinnati's defense will look to cause problems in the backfield.
The Steelers offense had all sorts of trouble moving the ball in Week 1.
The ground game only managed 32 yards on 15 carries against Tennessee's defense, ranked 27th in overall defense in 2012. That spells trouble.
Pittsburgh's offensive line was in disarray after center Maurkice Pouncey went down in the first quarter, so it will be interesting to see if the newly signed Fernando Velasco is ready to replace him.
Redman's best games against the Bengals came in 2011, when he had 15 touches for 76 yards in two games. Pittsburgh will need to get something similar going Monday night.
The Bengals defense was sixth overall in 2012 and looked solid in Week 1 this year despite the loss to Chicago. After recording 12.5 sacks last year, Atkins didn't get much going last week and finished without a tackle.
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His presence in the middle of this defense could cause trouble again for the Steelers. If Atkins is able to take advantage of Pittsburgh's O-line woes like we expect him to, Ben Roethlisberger will need his receivers to get open early.
The best man for that job is wide receiver Antonio Brown.
In five career games against the Bengals, Brown has 22 catches for 373 yards and a touchdown. As Pittsburgh's primary receiver this year, he will have to carry even more of the load. He did a nice job in Week 1, going for 73 yards on five catches. If he can get open early for Big Ben, it will also help out this offensive line.
The Bengals' best playmaker continues to be A.J. Green. He is one of the few players in the league who have been able to get to the Steelers defense consistently. Through four games against Pittsburgh, Green averages about 60 yards and a touchdown catch. Look for more of the same from the Bengals' star receiver.
Neither team started 2013 the way it wanted, so it will be interesting to see Monday night if these playmakers for both the Steelers and Bengals are able to right the ship for their respective teams.