The Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers occupy first place and second place in the North Division of the American Football Conference (AFC). The Bengals are one of five remaining undefeated teams. Rapidly-improving quarterback Andy Dalton has led his squad to an impressive Won-Loss record of 6-0.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, a perennial power in the division and in the National Football League, as well, find themselves looking up at Cincinnati, two and one half games behind the leaders. The Steelers, who have been playing without superstar quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, have managed to win four out of seven games.
It is uncertain if “Big Ben,” as he is known to fans of the team, will be available and able to take snaps this Sunday, but there is no doubt that his team needs him on the field. This game is a rivalry game and also a “must-win” for the home team from the “steel city.”
A win by Pittsburgh will knock the Bengals from the unbeaten ranks and enable the Steelers to close ground on the front-runners, making Cincinnati’s lead much less comfortable. The Bengals take full advantage of strong offensive and defensive lines that help them control, and then win, football games.
Importantly, the team from Ohio has a shut-down defense and a powerful offense that has shown it can put “points on the board” against any team. At least, Cincinnati has been able to do that through the first six games.
For its part, Pittsburgh has a winning tradition and a habit of coming out on top in contests it looks like it will lose. It has been that way throughout the ten years that Ben Roethlisberger has been the starting quarterback. Aging players, including “Big Ben” have forced team management to take steps over the past couple of years to jettison long time stars and replace them with younger, faster and stronger players.
Such transitions usually lead to losing seasons for a year or two. But, to its credit, the team from western Pennsylvania has managed to “keep winning” as it changes its roster.
The Cincinnati Bengals have looked up at the Pittsburgh Steelers for far too many years, but find themselves “looking down” in the 2015-2016 Season. It has to feel good and it is certain that the Bengals want to keep things as they are when both squads “take the field” a few days from now.
As Sunday approaches, the Bengals appear to be healthier than their rivals, more talented and playing at a higher level. The Steelers, however, have their winning tradition, the support of a certain-to-be-raucous home crowd and motivation to topple the visitors and turn the race for first place in the North Division more than just a pipe dream.
This game may easily turn out to be the first loss the Bengals suffer this season.
Courtesy of Vwmin.org