Here's what to look for tonight in Cincinnati.
Or so they say in Cincinnati. For the last eight years or so, the week they host the Steelers has been this team's Super Bowl. Is it just me or are they not the only team to have something called "Steeler Week"?
Marvin Lewis always has this team ready to roll when Pittsburgh comes to town, in most cases they just haven't been able to translate it into the actual game until just last season.
Just The Bengals
These might not be the same Bengals that we have become used to going out there, taking over their stadium and then folding up their team like a pup tent. Then again, they still might be.
As I touched on in my last segment, they were ready for the Steelers last season not just once, but twice.
They drove right into the teeth of that not-so-vaunted Steelers defense for a game-winning score with 14 seconds remaining and thus sentencing Steelers fans to just one of what would become many fourth-quarter collapses. They have also won nine of their last 10 AFC North games.
Terrell Owens/Chad Johnson
The above names, and yes I still refuse to refer to Johnson by his now legal name, are considered to be studs in the business of catching passes and scoring touchdowns, but for years I have digressed. These two are both very inconsistent, especially when playing Pittsburgh.
Johnson routinely gets shut down, mainly by Ike Taylor. He has had some success against Pittsburgh, like earning eight catches for 86 yards in 2007 in the game in Pittsburgh, but then disappears in games like on Wildcard Weekend in 2005 where he had four for 59 yards.
Owens, on the other hand, has three grabs for 32 yards and a touchdown, that being for Dallas in 2008, and seven for 53 yards in the upset over the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004. He was covered well in both games as well as throwing a sideline tantrum in each.
Maybe they are great receivers. They just won't ever win a Super Bowl and that's something I have been right about so far in their careers.
They might get their fair share of catches on the Steelers defense, but they rarely find the end zone, which is key when playing against players like these two.
Steelers Pass Defense
The pass defense hasn't been the same in recent weeks. After being in the upper echelon of the league in yards per game, they are now sitting at 25th.
Believe what you want, because I know a lot of Steelers fans are overly critical around here, but I say it's mostly because of having big leads late in games.
That is when teams switch to a no-huddle style of offense that features many passing plays. They also just faced the Saints last week, which is mainly a pass-first team.
Run the Ball
Somehow I find myself yelling this about six or seven times each game, but the fact is that the Steelers need to run the ball more effectively tonight.
Last week in New Orleans, they ran 21 times for 108 yards. Looks great at first, but 38 of those were on Rashard Mendenhall's touchdown run late in the game. Other than that, the Steelers got no push up front.
The Bengals held Pittsburgh to rushing totals of 102 and 80, respectively in both games last season.
The Bengals are currently 23rd in the league in yards given up on the ground per game, but something tells me the Steelers will somehow find a way to play down to them this evening.
Maybe it's just because he is still in preseason form, but 195 yards through the air isn't going to cut it against the defending champions in prime time and it didn't as we all witnessed last Sunday. I don't care if you blame him, Bruce Arians or crappy receiver play for that, it can't happen tonight.
Roethlisberger has only lost twice in the state of Ohio, his home state of course, with both losses having come last year. One was the defensive collapse in Cincinnati and the other was in Cleveland, where the team just quit. I expect another notch in the win column this time around.
And since it's Monday, I've got to ask. Are you ready for some football?