Officials, start... your... penalties!
Week 13 is here and the 9-2 Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Paul Brown Stadium to play their hated inter-division foe, the Cincinnati Bengals. These contests, in particular, are always chock-full of high tempers and yellow flags.
More often than not, the games between these two teams are decided between who can or cannot keep their cool the longest. Whether it be Pacman Jones shoving Joey Porter, or Vontaze Burfict hitting somebody too late, the Bengals are usually the ones who crumble under the pressure.
However, as the age-old saying goes, "It takes two to tango".
I'm pretty confident in saying that the Bengals will do something Bengal-like, but that doesn't give the Steelers an excuse to retaliate. Pittsburgh is going to need to keep their wits about them, and not get caught up in the heat of the moment.
One player on the Steelers roster who has collected a fair share of penalties and bone-headed plays this season is this week's Z-Factor, second-year cornerback, Artie Burns. Artie is going to need to play his smartest game of the season on Monday night, following what has been a lackluster sophomore season (to put it nicely).
Yes, Burns can make the occasional pass break-up, and he's got "all of the tools," but the fact of the matter is that Burns has not played up to expectations this year. The second-year man's lack of success is frustrating because he was more or less a star of training camp just months ago. Burns shadowed Antonio Brown for a majority of camp and held his own a lot more than he did in the same situations as a rookie. Burns was seemingly practicing with a surplus of swag and confidence, but now he looks as if that confidence has been shot. It's not too late for Artie; remember he is only 22 years old.
I really do believe there is time for Burns to put all of his enticing defensive back pieces together, which brings us to this week's matchup with Cincinnati. The Steelers barely survived against Green Bay last week, winning off the boot of Chris Boswell on a last minute, record-breaking field goal. Mr. Burns was much to blame for the team's struggles and he cannot afford another repeat performance, especially against the Bengals.
I imagine that Artie Burns will see his fair share of two-time All-Pro wide receiver, A.J. Green. Green is by far the best player on the Bengals roster, and their offense goes as he does. If a team contains the freak of nature that is A.J. Green, Cincy usually loses the game.
This Monday night, the task of covering A.J. Green could either make or break Artie Burns this season. Call me crazy but I think Artie redeems himself this week, and in a big way.