The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers already have met twice this season, and the road team won both matchups.
Will that trend continue into the postseason?
We’ll find out Saturday night at Paul Brown Stadium, where the AFC North rivals will meet in an AFC Wild Card Game. Both teams enter the contest with their fair share of issues: The Bengals’ playoff track record (0-6 in the playoffs since 1990) is well-established, and it’s still unknown whether starting quarterback Andy Dalton will return from injury or backup AJ McCarron will get the nod. The Steelers, meanwhile, might not have the services of running back DeAngelo Williams, who hurt his foot in Week 17.
Bengals Player To Watch: Whoever is at quarterback
Whether it’s Dalton or McCarron under center, Cincy’s success all comes down to the signal caller. The Bengals’ downfall in their last four playoff losses has been the play of Dalton and the offense, which failed to score more than 13 points in any of those contests. That’s not going to cut it against Pittsburgh’s potent offense. The Steelers finished the season with the NFL’s third-worst passing defense, so they can be beat through the air. If McCarron starts, he must bring the big-game confidence he displayed at Alabama. If it’s Dalton, he has to find a way to bury his playoff demons and rewrite the script.
Steelers Player To Watch: Fitzgerald Toussaint
Who? Yes, that will be Pittsburgh’s starting running back Saturday if Williams can’t go, which seems likely. The Steelers are 0-3 in the AFC Wild Card game without their starting running back, including last season’s early exit in the absence of Le’Veon Bell. While Ben Roethlisberger and Co. likely will air it out a ton, this offense can’t be completely one-dimensional. That places the burden on Toussaint, a Youngstown, Ohio, native who was on Pittsburgh’s practice squad less than two months ago, to get the ground game going and keep possession away from Cincinnati.
How To Watch
When: Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL Game Pass or DirecTV
Thumbnail photo via David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller (83) carries the ball as Cincinnati Bengals defensive ends Wallace Gilberry (95) and Carlos Dunlap (96) defend during the third quarter at Paul Brown Stadium.
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