The Bengals won the AFC North last year, but drew the Steelers in the Wild Card round. After three-plus quarters of intense back-and-forth play, Cincinnati had the ball with a 16-15 lead and 1:45 left in regulation. All the Bengals had to do was sit on the ball and force Pittsburgh to burn its timeouts and they would've had their first playoff win under Marvin Lewis.
Then disaster struck. Jeremy Hill fumbled the ball away and the Steelers got it back. A few plays later, the Bengals committed several unnecessary personal fouls, including a vicious hit from Vontaze Burfict on Antonio Brown that put the Steelers in field goal range. Pittsburgh made the field goal and broke Cincinnati's hearts once again. Burfict got a three-game suspension for his troubles.
If there's good news, it's that the Bengals will have Andy Dalton under center this time -- a broken thumb suffered late last season forced AJ McCarron to start the playoff game. Dalton had his best season in 2015 and looks to be carrying over his form, rallying the Bengals to a 23-22 road win over the New York Jets. Dalton completed 23 of 30 passes for 366 yards, a touchdown and an interception, hooking up with A.J. Green for 12 catches, 180 yards and the score.
The Steelers are still without Le'Veon Bell, who's serving the second of a three-game suspension this week. However, that hardly mattered in their season opener on Monday Night Football. DeAngelo Williams, looking like an ageless wonder at this point, gashed Washington for 143 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 300 yards and Brown did his thing as Pittsburgh made quick work of Washington in the 38-16 win.
Despite not having Martavis Bryant (suspended for the year} or Markus Wheaton (shoulder injury) in Week 1, Roethlisberger found a potential new weapon in Eli Rogers, who finished with six catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. Wheaton got in mostly full practices this week, but he was downgraded to limited on Friday and listed as questionable on the injury report. If Wheaton misses another week, should once again be a factor in Pittsburgh's offense, which looks like it'll be a well-oiled machine once again this year even with all the injuries and suspensions.
The defense remains a concern for the Steelers, especially with rising star linebacker Ryan Shazier picking up a knee injury last week. Shazier is also questionable and had only limited practices this week. The 2014 first-round pick is an important cog in Pittsburgh's defense, which faces a significant downgrade if Shazier is forced to miss any time.
There's a lot of bad blood in this rivalry and last year's playoff game is still a fresh memory, so things could get intense on Sunday. This is one of the top can't-miss matchups in Week 2.
How to watch
When: 1 p.m. ET
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn