The Pittsburgh Steelers, last year's AFC Super Bowl representative, suddenly find themselves somewhat concerned with their postseason future. After their second loss to the Baltimore Ravens this season, the Steelers are now at 6-3 overall and 0-2 in their division looking at a possible fight for a wildcard spot. They face the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday who, at 6-2 including five straight wins, are one of the hottest teams in the NFL and as well as still in control of their destiny.
Cincinnati's solid first half of the season has come as result of, and not in spite of, the play of rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Dalton, taking the place of the disgruntled now-Raider Carson Palmer, has proven to be a solid caretaker of the offense at worst, and an occasional playmaker when things are clicking, especially with Green emerging as a future superstar in the NFL. More impressive, however, is a defense that ranks fourth in the league in yards allowed per game.
The Steelers are hardly on the ropes, but they do have a few issues to address from their two losses to Baltimore. The most pressing is an offensive line that has failed to give Rashard Mendenhall room to run at times, and has allowed 26 sacks on Ben Roethlisberger for the season. Otherwise, Pittsburgh is still among the best teams in the league defensively, allowing just 280 total yards per game. Someone is headed for a let down in an AFC North that is as good as any division in the league. The loser of Sunday's showdown may ultimately be the odd man out come playoff time.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, November 13; 1:00pm ET
Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
TV Distribution Map: The506.com
Steelers: WDVE 102.5 FM, 970 ESPN
Bengals: 700 WLW, ESPN 1530, 102.7 FM