The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals for the 2018 regular season finale which could see the former’s playoff hopes on the line.
Following a rollercoaster ride throughout December, there are five Steelers who I feel will be the impact players in this game. These are the Pittsburgh players everyone needs to keep an eye on this Sunday.
Following his AFC Defensive Player of the Week award against the Patriots, Haden was brought down to Earth with several controversial pass interference calls, plus a push-off on the game-winning touchdown catch that went uncalled.
After never winning in Cleveland, you can bet that Haden will play his heart out to try to get the Steelers into the postseason. While the outcome depends on the Browns beating the Ravens, the Steelers have to make sure they take care of business against the Bengals. With a depleted receiving corps in Cincy, look for Haden to have a huge bounce back game. (Not that he didn’t have a good one against New Orleans anyway!)
Speaking of bounce backs, here comes Conner, who practiced in full on Wednesday and is on a path to return to his first action after missing three games.
I anticipate the Steelers giving him his “sea legs” and allowing Conner to have about 70% of the backfield snaps, while working his way back from injury in preparation for what’s hopefully a home playoff game the following weekend.
The offensive captain isn’t going to take this season sitting down. Already stating he’s back in 2019, Big Ben isn’t ready to let 2018 slip and appears to have a fire ignited in him as of late. He beat his peer Tom Brady and should’ve done the same with Drew Brees.
Now his team is counting on him to step it up yet another level in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Big Ben’s counterpart, the defensive captain Cam Heyward, will have the same vigor as he looks to cement any chance that the Bengals can play underdog on Sunday.
Cam was just selected to the Pro Bowl and not as an alternate: but you can bet he would rather be playing in another “Bowl” game. That fire is going to intensify against the Bengals porous offensive line and backup quarterback.
If anyone took Sunday’s loss personally, it was this young man.
JuJu will be JuJu: maybe more than ever.
Look for Smith-Schuster to also have a big game and maybe catch every single pass thrown in his direction, as he proves last week’s fumble was a fluke, to never happen again.