Written By: Roy Countryman @PreacherBoyRoy
After a dismal start to this season for the Pittsburgh Steelers that has them sitting at 0-3, they look to get back on track with one of their arch-rivals in the Cincinnati Bengals. This matchup, however, has lost a little bit of its luster due to some of the big egos in the recent slugfests moving on to greener pastures. The storyline of this game is which of these two teams will plant their foot in the ground and make the statement that this is not a lost season.
The Steel City’s fanbase has been abuzz this season due to huge storylines that have already taken place; first the season-ending injury to their franchise QB, and then their usually conservative GM goes out and wheels and deals two different times to add to this team, but the fans need to make sure to take a big-picture look at why he did so. After losing the first three games to two out of conference foes and a non-divisional team if the Steelers can come out with a victory on Monday night they are somehow squarely back into the equation to win the AFC North. The real question for the remainder of the season should be this, will the young QB (Mason Rudolph) be aggressive enough to compliment a now highly pedigreed defense, and will the coaching staff make the necessary adjustments to provide a winning environment.
A.J. Green (WR): Out (Ankle)
Cordy Glenn (OT): Out (Concussion)
Ryan Glasgow (DT): Out (Thigh)
Kerry Wynn (DE): Out (Concussion)
Carl Lawson (DE): Doubtful (Hamstring)
Analysis: A.J. Green and Cordy Glenn have been dealing with multi-week absences and they were not expected to be available for this contest, so no harm no foul. The trio of Glasgow, Wynn, and Lawson will be sorely missed in this matchup both along with the interior as well as for the rotational pass-rushing depth outside, especially with the Steelers OL coming off an underwhelming performance against the 49ers.
Roosevelt Nix (FB): Out (Knee)
Vince Williams (ILB): Out (Hamstring)
Anthony Chickillo (OLB): Out (Foot)
Vance McDonald (TE): Doubtful (Shoulder)
Jayrone Elliott (OLB): Questionable (Hamstring)
Analysis: Nix, Williams, and Chickillo have been dealing with a variety of injuries that held them out of last week’s matchup so the team will look to get them back in weeks to come. After placing the #2 TE, Xavier Grimble on IR, and McDonald missing practice all week it left the Steelers paper-thin at that position on the depth chart, which is why they went out and traded with the Seahawks for Nick Vannett, who on a short week of practice looks to draw the start in this matchup. Elliott was a limited participant early on in the week at practice but got in a full practice on Saturday so he should be good to go as a Special Teams contributor on Monday.
Which Team Has The Advantage?
Matchups to keep an eye on:
Alejandro Villanueva (LT) vs. Carlos Dunlap (DE)
Stephon Tuitt (DE) vs. Bobby Hart (RT)
Minkah Fitzpatrick (FS) vs. Andy Dalton (QB)
Mark Barron & Devin Bush (LB) vs. Tyler Eifert & C.J. Uzomah (RB)
Diontae Johnson (WR) vs. William Jackson III (RCB)
Outlook: Even though these teams are both 0-3, that does not mean that their rosters are deprived of talent. The Bengals have a whole new offensive identity under the young, Offensive guru, Zac Taylor. He is great at masking deficiencies such as the turnstile they have at RT, named Bobby Hart. This week he will be at a distinct disadvantage when he is matched up with Stephon Tuitt who has been a homewrecker the first three weeks of the season and looks to keep stuffing the stat sheet with sacks this week. Villanueva is coming off an uneven performance where the 49ers continually beat him. This week will be no easier as he will go toe to toe with an equally gargantuan pass rusher in Carlos Dunlap who always seems to be a pest to Steelers QB’s. With another week to get acclimated to the defensive playbook, look for Minkah Fitzpatrick to show off a little more of his versatility especially when it comes to the task of covering TE’s due to the ineffectiveness so far this of the ILB’s in Devin Bush and Mark Barron. Fitzpatrick’s processing skills will be tested by Dalton due to his experience, but don’t sleep on his ball-hawking abilities as evidenced by last week. Diontae Johnson had a great first start last week, and really seemed to have a budding rapport with Mason Rudolph, but can he gain enough separation from the long and athletic William Jackson III that is rapidly developing into one of the best CBs in the league.
Steelers 24, Bengals 13