Welcome to the most comprehensive Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day Preview on the internet! This is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a Game Preview, the Steeler's Keys to Victory, Score Prediction, a detailed breakdown of each team, Fantasy Football Impact, Game Information, Individual Stats, Team Stats, and the latest Injury Report. Heck, you even get the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
Steelers need a win and some Cleveland magic to make the playoffs
When the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1) take on the Cincinnati Bengals (6-9) this Sunday at Heinz Field, many eyes will be watching the game take place on the field... and also glancing at the scoreboard for updates concerning the Ravens and Browns.
Don't count on Ben Roethlisberger to be one of them.
“I don’t care,” the Steelers quarterback said. “I don’t really care what’s going on outside of Heinz Field. It’s all I can control, so it’s all that matters to me.”
The Steelers will need to dispatch the Bengals, and then hope Cleveland can somehow pull off the upset in Baltimore for them to make the playoffs and win the AFC North Division.
“I am gonna focus on this game (against the Bengals),” Roethlisberger said. “That’s all that really matters to me because if we don’t care of our business, nothing else matters.”
It won't be easy to forget the failures that have put Pittsburgh in this predicament, but it is what it is, to quote head coach Mike Tomlin. Roethlisberger and the team can only control what they can, and defeating a wounded Bengals team is all they can do.
“Just treat it like a normal week,” Roethlisberger said. “We have got a big game, an AFC North opponent. If you have to psyche yourself up to get yourself ready for that game, there’s something wrong with you.”
James Conner looks as if he will return after a three-game absence, but don't look for Jaylen Samuels to go back into the shadows with Conner returning to the starting role at running back. After his performances the past few games, Samuels has earned a spot in Pittsburgh's vaunted offense.
“No doubt he has,” offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said. “There was a spot we were originally trying to work him in also to be able to do: be that back who could give you some more dimension in the passing game, maybe take some situational football off of James’ hands, being a primary ball-toter.
“It would be great if (Samuels) could do that, and he’s proven that he can do that.”
While Conner was out, Samuels rushed for 223 yards and had 105 yards receiving.
- Juju Smith-Schuster was named Team MVP via the vote of the players.
Keys To Victory
- Get James Conner involved early. The Bengals are woeful vs the run.
- Attack downfield. Unleash Ben.
- Don't let up. Bury this team.
- Take away the Bengal's best weapon in Joe Mixon and dare Cincinnati to beat you through the air with Jeff Driskel.
What more is there to say? The Steelers are 8-6-1. You can look at turnovers at bad times that lead to losses. You can look at terrible defensive efforts that could've saved the team after some of those turnovers. You can look at bad coaching decisions, mismanaged timeouts, or terrible times to challenge or not challenge plays in games. You can look at horrific officiating that had lead to scoring drives against Pittsburgh, instead of coming off the field after a big defensive stop.
They all add up to 8-6-1.
Now the Steelers have to win this week and pray to God the Browns can save their ass by taking care of the Ravens for the 2nd time this year. It's either that or bye-bye 2018 season.
Will it happen? The odds say no, but with how crazy the NFL has been this year, don't bet against it.
This is a game where Ben Roethlisberger and the offense has to come out swinging and knock the Bengals out early. Cincinnati is looking for any reason to tuck tail and run in this one, so unless the Steelers are dumb enough to let them hang around and garner any hope at all, this should be over early. Vegas certainly thinks so spotting the Bengals 16.5 points in this one.
''It's out of our control,'' Pittsburgh guard David DeCastro. ''You're going to feel a lot worse than you do now if you were to go out there and see Baltimore lose and us lose too. It's definitely deflating (to be in this position). It's been a long season. We've put forth a lot of effort.''
No more excuses. There is no control over your destiny. The only option is to lay the wood to a team that is missing half of it's starting roster... then hope Cleveland saves your bacon and you are granted a second chance at accomplishing your preseason goals and Super Bowl dreams.
Steelers 38 - Bengals 13
NFL Week 17 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
- Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA. | Field: Natural Grass
- Kickoff: Sunday, December 30th at 4:25 pm
- Game Tickets Link
- TV: CBS (locally KDKA-TV, channel 2) | Announcers: Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) Rich Gannon (analyst) | Steve Tasker (sideline)
- Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM/970 WBGG-AM | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley (analysts) | Missi Matthews (sideline)
- Weather at Kickoff: Sunny and 40. Winds SSW 5-10 mph.
- Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -16.5
Fantasy Football Focus
- Start: QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, RB James Conner, Steelers D
- Sleeper: TE Vance McDonald
- Sit: None
- Start: None
- Sleeper: None
- Sit: TE Tyler Eifert (FYI Keith Butler)
- Series History: Began in 1970
- The Steelers are 61-35 overall against the Bengals
- At Home: 32-16
- On Road: 29-19
- Streak: Steelers won previous six meetings.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Oct. 14, 2018, at Cincinnati (Pittsburgh 28, Cincinnati 21)
- Post-Season: 2-0
- Last Post-Season Meeting: Jan. 9, 2016, at Cincinnati (Pittsburgh 38, Cincinnati 16) - AFC Wild Card
Did You Know?
- Ben Roethlisberger needs 158 passing yards to reach the 5,000-passing yard milestone in 2018 and for the first time in his NFL career.
- Roethlisberger with 29 completions on Sunday, would join Drew Brees (2011, 2014 and 2016) and Peyton Manning (2010 and 2013) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with at least
450 completions in a season.
- James Conner is 91 rushing yards from 1,000 in 2018.
- Conner needs 33 receiving yards to tally 500 in 2018.
- Antonio Brown needs one touchdown catch to reach 75 in his NFL career and with the Steelers.
- Brown's next touchdown will mark the 80th of his NFL career and tie him with Jerome Bettis for the third-most total touchdowns in team history.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster is two touchdown receptions shy of 15 in his NFL career.
- T.J. Watt needs one sack to reach 20.0 in his NFL career.
- Cam Heyward is 1.0 sacks from becoming tying Aaron Smith (44.0) for the second-most by a Steelers defensive lineman since sacks became an official statistic in 1982 (Keith Willis: 59.0).
A look at the Pittsburgh Steelers!
- Overall Record: 8-6-1
- Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (12th Season with Steelers)
- Overall Regular Season Record: 124-66-1 (.652)
- Playoff Record: 8-7 (Qualified for playoffs 8 times)
- 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers Roster
- Steelers Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Game: New Orleans 31 Pittsburgh 28
Scouting the Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger's big arm, along with his uncanny ability to slip out of the pocket and extend plays makes him one of the league's best.
Le'Veon Bell who? James Conner has shown he more than capable of shouldering a starters share of carries. He has slimmed down and has added speed and quickness to an already powerful running style. Conner has become a dual threat and is one of the best RB's in the NFL. Jaylen Samuels is an H-Back type of player that can line up all over the field. He is especially dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. Steven Ridley is a capable runner that can be counted upon on an as needed basis.
What more can you say about Antonio Brown? He is the league's best wide receiver. His dedication and drive to be the best is unmatched by any player in the league. JuJu Smith-Schuster heads into his 2nd season and has picked up where he left off. Speaking of rookies, James Washington was a Camp favorite of Roethlisberger, and is starting to show flashes of becoming a dangerous weapon as the 3rd receiver. Eli Rogers is back and is excellent out of the slot. Darrius Heyward-Bey is mainly used on special teams. Ryan Switzer has been good in the return game, but has also established himself as a reliable target for Roethlisberger out of the slot.
Jesse James is reliable as ever. Vance McDonald is making a big impact in his 2nd year as a Steeler, often delivering punishing hits while being tackled. Xavier Grimble provides a big target for Roethlisberger in the Red Zone.
Up front, the Steelers deploy Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt as their defensive ends. In the middle, Javon Hargrave and Daniel McCullers will rotate. Tyson Alualu and Kameron Canaday will see time at defensive end as well. L.T. Walton can play all three spots.
The linebacker unit goes Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt on the outside, with Vince Williams and Jon Bostic in the middle. Anthony Chickillo and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi back-up Dupree and Watt, while L.J. Fort and Tyler Matakevich are reserves in the middle.
In the secondary, Coty Sensabaugh and Joe Haden are the starters at cornerback. Backing them up will be Artie Burns, Mike Hilton, and Cameron Sutton. Rookie Terrell Edmunds starts at strong safety, with Morgan Burnett and Jordan Dangerfield backing him up and seeing plenty of action in nickel and dime formations. Sean Davis is the starter yet again at free safety, with Brian Allen and Marcus Allen as reserves.
- Ben Roethlisberger (4,842 yards passing | 33 TD passes | 15 interceptions | 23 sacks | 95 yards rushing | 3 TD's)
- James Conner (909 yards rushing | 12 rushing TD’s | 52 receptions | 467 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Jaylen Samuels (254 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 19 receptions | 159 yards receiving | 3 receiving TD’s)
- Stevan Ridley (80 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 3 receptions | 18 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Roosevelt Nix (4 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 3 receptions | 36 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Juju Smith-Schuster (106 receptions | 1,389 receiving yards | 6 receiving TD’s)
- Antonio Brown (104 receptions | 1,279 receiving yards | 15 receiving TD’s)
- Ryan Switzer (35 receptions | 251 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- James Washington (13 receptions | 153 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Eli Rogers (5 receptions | 22 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Darrius Heyward-Bey (1 receptions | 9 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Vance McDonald (47 receptions | 571 receiving yards | 4 receiving TD’s)
- Jesse James (30 receptions | 423 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
- Xavier Grimble (5 receptions | 70 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- *Chris Boswell (Extra Point: 43-48 | FG: 13-20 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 3-3 | 30-39: 4-6 | 40-49: 5-10 | 50+: 1-1 | Long: 50)
- Matt McCrane (Extra Point: 5-5 | FG: 5-9 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 3-3 | 30-39: 0-0 | 40-49: 2-4 | 50+: 0-2 | Long: 44)
A look at the Cincinnati Bengals!
- Overall Record: 6-9
- Head Coach: Marvin Lewis (16th Season with Bengals)
- Overall Regular Season Record: 131-121-3 (.520 | 131-121-3 (.520) with Bengals
- Playoff Record: 0-7 (Qualified for playoffs 7 times)
- 2018 Cincinnati Bengals Roster
- Cincinnati Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Week: Cleveland 26 Cincinnati 18
Scouting the Bengals
Jeff Driskel has done his best with a wounded line-up. He's... not very good.
Joe Mixon is the starter and has had a solid year. He has rushed for 1,063 yards with eight touchdowns. Giovani Bernard is more of a pass catching threat out of the backfield.
A.J. Green is normally the Bengal's top guy, but he is injured... Tyler Boyd has broken out this year for 76 receptions, good for 1,028 yards and seven scores...and he is injured. John Ross has had a nice rookie season with seven touchdown catches. Alex Erickson and Cody Core make up the rest of Cinci's options at WR.
C.J. Uzomah has done a good job in place of the oft-injured Tyler Eifert. Uzomah has 42 catches for 433 yards.
The absolute worst in the league, giving up 29.3 points per game.
- Jeff Driscoll (908 yards passing | 6 TD passes | 2 interceptions | 12 sacks | 117 yards rushing | 2 TD's)
- *Andy Dalton (2,566 yards passing | 21 TD passes | 11 interceptions | 21 sacks | 99 yards rushing | 2 TD's)
- Joe Mixon (1,063 yards rushing | 8 rushing TD’s | 42 receptions | 294 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Giovani Bernard (204 yards rushing | 3 rushing TD’s | 33 receptions | 210 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- *Tyler Boyd (76 receptions | 1,028 receiving yards | 7 receiving TD’s)
- *A.J. Green (46 receptions | 694 receiving yards | 6 receiving TD’s)
- John Ross (20 receptions | 209 receiving yards | 7 receiving TD’s)
- Alex Erickson (14 receptions | 104 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Cody Core (13 receptions | 160 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- C.J. Uzomah (42 receptions | 433 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
- Randy Bullock (Extra Point: 38-40 | FG: 17-21 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 4-4 | 30-39: 6-7 | 40-49: 5-5 | 50+: 2-5 | Long: 51)
Offensive & Defensive Stats
- Total Yards: Steelers average 407.3 YPG | Bengals average 318.4 YPG
- Rushing: Steelers average 92 YPG | Bengals average 103.8 YPG
- Passing: Steelers average 315.3 YPG | Bengals average 214.6 YPG
- Scoring: Steelers average 27.5 PPG | Bengals average 23.7 PPG
- Total Yards: Steelers allow 335.9 YPG | Bengals allow 418.3 YPG
- Rushing: Steelers allow 94.2 YPG | Bengals allow 142.6 YPG
- Passing: Steelers allow 241.7 YPG | Bengals allow 275.7 YPG
- Scoring: Steelers allow 23.1 PPG | Bengals allow 29.3 PPG
- Pittsburgh (Sacks: 48 | Interceptions: 8 | Fumbles: 7)
- Cincinnati (Sacks: 33 | Interceptions: 11 | Fumbles: 6)
Injury Report (12/28/2018)
- Out: None
- Doubtful: LB Vince Williams (Toe)
- Questionable: S Sean Davis (Quadriceps), RB James Conner (Ankle), WR Antonio Brown (Coach's Decision/Knee)
- Out: WR Tyler Boyd (Knee), LB Vontaze Burfict (Concussion), LB Jordan Evans (Ankle), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Shoulder), CB Tony McRae (Hamstring)
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: None
Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 Schedule
Thursday, Aug. 9 @ Philadelphia W, 31-14
Thursday, Aug. 16 @ Green Bay L, 51-34
Saturday, Aug. 25 TENNESSEE W, 16-6
Thursday, Aug. 30 CAROLINA W, 39-24
REGULAR SEASON (8-6-1)
Sunday, Sept. 9 @ Cleveland 1 p.m. | TIE- 21-21
Sunday, Sept. 16 KANSAS CITY 1 p.m. | L- 42-37
Monday, Sept. 24 @ Tampa Bay 8:15 p.m. | W- 30-27
Sunday, Sept. 30 BALTIMORE 8:20 p.m. | L- 26-14
Sunday, Oct. 7 ATLANTA* 1 p.m. | W- 41-17
Sunday, Oct. 14 @ Cincinnati* | W- 28-21
Sunday, Oct. 21 BYE WEEK
Sunday, Oct. 28 CLEVELAND* | W- 33-18
Sunday, Nov. 4 @ Baltimore* | W- 23-16
Thursday, Nov. 8 CAROLINA | W- 52-21
Sunday, Nov. 18 @ Jacksonville | W- 20-16
Sunday, Nov. 25 @ Denver* | L - 24-17
Sunday, Dec. 2 LOS ANGELES CHARGERS* | L- 33-30
Sunday, Dec. 9 @ Oakland* 4:25 p.m. | L- 24-21
Sunday, Dec. 16 NEW ENGLAND* | W- 17-10
Monday, Dec. 23 @ New Orleans* | L- 31-28
Sunday, Dec. 30 CINCINNATI* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
* - Times may change due to flexible scheduling
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 5-6 Wild Card Weekend
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 12-13 Divisional Playoff Games
Sunday, Jan. 20 Conference Championships
Sunday, Jan. 27 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Sunday, Feb. 3 Super Bowl LIII (Atlanta, Ga.)