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NFL Monday Night Football Preview: Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
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4 Dec 2017 01:45 PM EST

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. (Image Source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Here’s a look at the Monday Night Football matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers:

Series: Steelers lead 59-35; Streaks: Steelers won the past four; Last Meeting: Steelers 29, Bengals 14 (10.22.17)

Time: 8:30 PM ET; TV: ESPN (Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters)

Where They Stand:

The Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2) come into Monday night’s game riding a six-game winning streak, which they need to extend to seven if they’re going to keep up with the New England Patriots for the best record in the AFC. The Cincinnati Bengals (5-6) aren’t having the same level of success, but have won their past two and hope to keep their playoff hopes alive by getting back to .500 and staying one game behind the sixth-seeded Baltimore Ravens.  

When the Steelers Have the Ball:

A big part of Pittsburgh’s winning streak is Ben Roethlisberger finding a hot hand. He was 33 of 45 for 351 yards and four touchdowns (106.8 rating) last Sunday night, his second-straight game with 30-plus completions and at least four touchdown passes. He’s also no stranger to succeeding in Cincinnati with 918 yards, four TD passes, and an INT (99.2 rating) in his past three at Paul Brown Stadium. In order to keep Big Ben in check, Antonio Brown (questionable) must be slowed down, something no one has really been able to do. He leads the league with 80 receptions and has caught 10-plus balls for 100-plus yards in five games this season, including each of the past two. Le’Veon Bell is a weapon in both the run and throw games. The Michigan State product leads the league with his 981 rushing yards and 1,377 scrimmage yards.

The Bengals are strong up front, which allows them to compete. Veteran end Carlos Dunlap has 1.5 sacks in his past two at home and 4.5 sacks with five TFLs in his past five on Monday night, while rookie linebacker Carl Lawson has provided a big boost to the pass rush with a rookie-best seven sacks. As good as they are, opposing teams must focus on defensive tackle Geno Atkins first and foremost. He’s recorded seven sacks in his past seven home games.

When the Bengals Have the Ball:

Coming on strong has been quarterback Andy Dalton who had a two-touchdown effort (111.3 rating) last week, with seven scoring strikes to no interceptions (108.8 rating) in his past three games. Dalton hasn’t thrown a pick in five straight. Like Pittsburgh, Cincy has a clear go-to guy in A.J. Green. He’s scored in two of the past three with 356 receiving yards in his past two home games against the Steelers. Tight end Tyler Kroft has found the painted area in each of the past two. Another player who comes into tonight playing his best ball is rookie Joe Mixon, who had a career-high 165 scrimmage yards (114 rushing, 51 receiving) in Week 12. In his past two home games, he’s put up 274 yards from scrimmage.

Tough to contain of late, Pittsburgh defensive end Cameron Heyward had a sack in his last game against the Bengals and has two-plus sacks in the past two games. He provides the interior pass rush, while outside linebacker T.J. Watt comes off the edge with five sacks, second among rookies. On the inside, linebacker Vince Williams has produced six sacks and Ryan Shazier leads the way with 87 stops.

Score: Steelers 24, Bengals 20

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. 

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