On paper, tonight’s Steelers-Bengals Monday night showdown looks fairly one-sided.
Pittsburgh, coming off a loss last Sunday night to New Orleans, can tie Baltimore at 6-2 atop the AFC North with a win tonight.
Yep. They’re behind the Browns. Yikes. On to the matchups.
Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) vs. Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals)
Big Ben came down to earth last week in New Orleans after a pair of stellar efforts to start his abbreviated 2010 season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come back with a vengeance tonight against a divisional rival.
The Bengals’ defense as a unit is poor, and they haven’t shown that they can be particularly proficient against either the pass or the run.
So, should the Steelers try to kill Cincy through the air, Ben will have a big night.
Palmer has been incredibly inconsistent this season, and followed up his 412-yard effort in Week 7 with a meager 156-yard output against Miami last week.
He’s got some weapons as receivers and the Steelers aren’t all that great against the pass, but this is a no-brainer.
You start Big Ben.
Rashard Mendenhall (Steelers) vs. Cedric Benson (Bengals)
Mendenhall’s production has been down since the return of Roethlisberger, but he still put up solid effort in two of his last three games.
He’s scored six touchdowns in eight games, and while he isn’t typically a big part of the passing game, he does have 11 catches on the season.
Benson hasn’t been much of a factor since his big effort against Tampa in Week 5, having been kept to 70 yards or less in each of his last two games.
Against a run defense that ranks as the league’s best by a mile, Benson seems destined for his weakest output of the season.
I wouldn’t start Benson in any format, unless I’m insanely desperate or thin at running back.
Easy call, Mendenhall.
Hines Ward/Mike Wallace (Steelers) vs. Terrell Owens/Chad Ochocinco (Bengals)
Excluding last week, Big Ben and his receivers have picked up right where they left off last season.
After milling about with the Pittsburgh's backup QBs through the first few weeks, Hines Ward has caught 15 passes in the last three games combined and found the end zone in the first two.
Mike Wallace has caught no more than three passes in any game this season, but he’s the epitome of a big-play receiver.
He won’t do anything more for you in a PPR league, but he still racks up yardage and is always a candidate to find the end zone.
Owens has enjoyed a resurgence this season with the Bengals. He has five touchdowns this season and has scored in four straight games.
There’s no doubt that he’s Carson Palmer’s favorite target at this point. He has 31 catches in those last four games.
Ochocinco had two big games this season, but has essentially been invisible in the other six.
So, I’d rank them this way: Owens, Ward, Wallace, Ochocinco.
Heath Miller (Steelers) vs. Jermaine Gresham (Bengals)
Gresham has caught at least three passes in every game this year but has picked up no more than 59 yards in any of them. He’s also scored just twice.
While those numbers may be underwhelming, he’s actually been more productive than the veteran Miller.
Miller has scored one time on the year and has no more than 50 yards in any game.
You’re not doing yourself any favors by trusting either one of these guys, but if forced to choose, I’d go with Gresham.
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