Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Best Matchups In AFC North Showdown


On Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers head into Cincinnati for the battle of the AFC North. Will the return of their two first-round linebackers steer them back into the playoff picture? Let’s check out the best in the quest for the AFC North’s number one seed.

Bengals Right Tackle vs Outside Linebacker Jason Worilds

Bengals Center Russell Bodine vs Defensive Ends Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward

This game hinges on the Steelers ability to pressure Andy Dalton into mistakes. And make no mistake, Dalton is prime for another high-pressure meltdown. Dalton wins games because he gets rid of the ball quicker than any other NFL quarterback. And with the way the Steelers corners have struggled over the past few weeks, LeBeau must muddle-up Dalton’s timing. Expect Cameron Heyward and Jason Worilds to be a big part of that plan.

The Bengals signed right tackle Eric Winston off the street this week and he may start over incumbent Marshall Newhouse. Either way, Worilds has the biggest matchup advantage in this game.

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Worilds played so well last December the Steelers gave him a 10 million dollar tag this off-season. He and fellow outside linebacker Jarvis Jones  must bring out “Bad Andy” to protect their corners from receivers, A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu.

The Steelers have been jonesin’ to see Jarvis back on their field after his two-sack start to the season. He is healthy just in time to replace James Harrison (knee). It appears the ‘return to Cincy highlights’ will have to wait.

The Steelers also must shift another high defensive pick from sidelines to starter this week. Rookie second-round pick DE Stephon Tuitt will replace Brett Keisel. Tuitt and Heyward plus Worilds and Jones were the best Steelers pass rush rotation this preseason.

Bengals rookie center Russell Bodine hasn’t scored out well in recent weeks against the pass. And, depending on the LeBeau scheme, Tuitt has the quickness and strength to blow Bodine off the line. Expect the Bengals to counter with the run game where the Steelers defense has continued to under perform.

Ryan Shazier vs. Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill

Running backs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard will be used to soften up the Steelers front seven, and slow down the pass rush. Containing Bernard in the receiving game has been a problem for the Steelers in the past. He’s one of the reasons the Steelers drafted the speedy linebacker, Ryan Shazier, with their first pick.

Shazier will try to mimic Le’Veon Bell by overcoming an injury-plagued NFL start just in time for a December arrival.  Shazier needs to dominate like he did while playing for Ohio State.

Le’Veon Bell vs. Bengals Run Defense

The Bengals rank near the bottom in pass and run defense. Facing Tampa Bay and a Foster-less Houston Texans squad has the Bengals defense currently trending up against the run.

But Le’Veon Bell is ready for some home state highlights. The Bengals think they can handle Bell with a combination of linebackers Rey Maualuga/Emmanuel Lamur and then safety George Iloka playing clean-up. If they do that, it’s a deepball frenzy for the best receiver in the league, Antonio Brown.


The Bengals are the team with consecutive wins yet the Steelers haven’t had consecutive losses all year. These are two well-matched rosters but the shaky play on the Bengals offensive line gives the Steelers a slight advantage.

Even though Roethlisberger has been doing his best Bad Andy imitation in recent weeks, Bell gives the Steelers additional leverage. Special Note: Since 2010, the Steelers have beat the Bengals every time the Steelers have scored over 23 points.