Wow! What a hell of a “nut-up” job done by the Steelers’ Defense this past Sunday. Kudos to you William Gay for causing 1 turnover and sealing the game with an Pick of your own. Furthermore, the W by the Steelers coupled with the absolute bed-crapping by the Ravens against the Sea-Chickens now means that Pittsburgh is back in the hunt for the A.F.C. North crown. That being said, the upcoming Bye Week is not one where those of us in Steeler Nation should be tuning out to what the rest of the N.F.L. is doing. Why you may ask?
Well, the 6-3 Bengals will travel to The Charm City to play the 6-3 Ravens this Sunday. This game is one that will have an enormous impact on the A.F.C. North and the Steelers as well. So for today’s article I thought that I would discuss my reasoning behind why us in Steeler Nation need to root for the Bengals this weekend.
Why a Cincinnati Win Helps the Steelers:
At 7-3 the Steelers are sitting pretty at the Bye Week. Sadly, their two bed-crapping performances against Baltimore leave them with a tenuous lead over the 6-3 Ravens and the 6-3 Bengals with 6 games left to play. So why exactly must we root for the Bengals on Sunday? These are what I believe are the three most important reasons:
#1 Baltimore Loss Means Steelers Control Own Destiny:
This is probably the most obvious and important of any and all of the reasons, but for those of you that don’t understand, let me explain. If Baltimore loses they stand at 6-4 through 10 games and the Steelers will be 7-3. This is huge for the Steelers because their two losses to Baltimore earlier in the season give the Ravens a tie-breaker edge. The only way Pittsburgh can win the A.F.C. North over Baltimore is if they have a better overall record than Baltimore.
If the Steelers end up tied with Baltimore in terms of overall record, they’re ultimately screwed and it’s nobody’s fault but their own. Had LeBeau actually had the stones to pressure Flacco and the game ended in a Steeler victory two weeks ago, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, but alas here we are. Every win counts at this point, and a Cincinnati victory over Baltimore ensures the Steelers stay ahead 1 game in the loss column with 6 to play.
#2 The Steelers’ Final 6 Games Are All Winnable:
Sure, I know there is a whole month and a half of the regular season left to play, but the Steelers schedule over the next 6 weeks actually breaks down pretty well for them. This sort of piggy-backs on top of reason #1, but if the Ravens lose, the Steelers’ chances of winning out to win the Division are pretty damn good.
In their final 6 weeks the Steelers face the following teams:
#1: (@Chiefs) A Matt Cassel-less team led by Tyler Palko.
#2 (Bengals) A team that the Steelers just beat
#3 (Browns) Theoretical “cake-walk” at Home
#4 (@49ers) I see Smith running for his life if Gore is held in check
#5 (Rams) Steelers too much for young Rams in Steel City
#6 (@Browns) Cleveland’s Super Bowl, but McCoy won’t play the hero
I guess what I’m trying to illustrate bluntly is that the Steelers have a pretty damn favorable schedule down the stretch. Don’t get me wrong, San Francisco on the road should be the toughest test, but I’m not drinking the kool-aid just yet on them. They’re Defense is tough, and Gore is arguably one of the best all-around Backs in the game. Yet Alex Smith has to play like Alex Smith at some point and they’re due for a let-down. I just am crossing my fingers that it’s against the Steelers Thus, the stage is set for the Steelers to run the table. Having Cincinnati deal a blow to Baltimore is something that could really put this plan of “winning out to win the North” into motion.
#3 Pittsburgh Has Another Game Against the Bengals:
As I alluded to in the previous reason, the Steelers have another game against Cincinnati left on the schedule. Moreover, the game is at Heinz Field which should be a huge advantage for Pittsburgh.
Yet some will argue, “Why do you want the Bengals to win? They’ll be 7-3 and tied with the Steelers if they beat Baltimore.” To that I will counter and say, “Well, did you watch last Sunday’s game? Cincinnati really isn’t what you’d call a juggernaut of a football team.”
I’m not going to lie, last Sunday’s game was a Hell of a lot closer than I would have liked, and the Steelers really let the Bengals crawl back into a game that they had no business whatsoever being in. Two Fluke Plays (Green TD where Clark exhibited why his ball skills are awful, and the Hall crazy Pick), piss-poor playcalling by Arians, the inability of the Refs. to flag Whitworth for Holding against Harrison, and the Steelers’ Defense going soft pretty much allowed the Bengals to crawl back into the game.
Sure Andy Dalton is a Rookie, but all this media fluffing of him is getting to be rather ridiculous. He made really only two good throws all game long (to his credit the one on the Gresham TD was terrific), and is a guy that could have trouble completing down-field throws (that aren’t saved by A.J. Green) when teams take away the short stuff. He was 15-30 and barely threw the ball 10 yards down the field the entire game. It’s an easy game-plan when facing the Bengals if you really break it down: 1. Stop the Run and Force Dalton to Throw, and 2. Withstand Cincinnati’s D-Line Pass Rush.
I actually want the Bengals to be tied with the Steelers entering their second matchup. That way, Baltimore will not only have lost to Cincinnati and in turn have given the Steelers a game lead in the Division, but a Steelers’ sweep of the Bengals swings a tie-breaker between the Steelers and the Bengals in Pittsburgh’s direction.
The Steelers have no more chances to beat the Ravens in the regular season and regain the upper-hand in the A.F.C. North. They blew it hardcore against them and now must suffer the consequences. However, they can still beat Cincinnati, and Cincinnati has two shots at Baltimore also. Thus, the Bengals could serve to help the Steelers by padding Baltimore’s number in the L column not once, but twice.
Well I certainly hope that I have given some of you Steelers fans that were on the fence regarding who to root for in Sunday’s game some reasoning why to pull for the Bengals. Granted I’d like to see both teams take one in the L column, but that just doesn’t happen.
By losing to Seattle this past Sunday, Baltimore may have cost themselves a shot at the Division Title and a Home Playoff Game. Moreover, the Ravens need to be aware that they are playing a foe that has beat them in 3 of their last 6 contests (and the last 2 in Baltimore) that Joe Flacco has started against a Mike Zimmer Defense. The door is now open for the Steelers to take control.
So come on Steeler Nation, rise up and support the Bengals (this week)! A Cincinnati victory could very well mean a Division Title for the Steelers come the beginning of January. Come on Cincy. do us a huge solid!
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