'Bold Predictions' is Steel City Underground's feature where our SCU team members have shifted from throwing caution to the wind in how crazy they'll go in their prognostications to a more objective, yet still bold, set of predictions on how Pittsburgh will, or will not, handle business this week.
On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers will meet their AFC North division rival Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. After a miserable performance last week, the Steelers are hoping to put together better offense despite injuries and utilize their high-powered defense to create turnovers and keep the Bengals winless in 2019. With Week 12's game being a divisional matchup, we'll jump into the Team SCU predictions for how things will turn out this weekend.
Here We Go!
A quick look at last week's predictions
After hearing about this game all this week, it really doesn't need to be relived or even rehashed. The Steelers offense lost JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and James Conner, forcing a struggling Mason Rudolph into a situation - behind an offensive line that also struggled at times - where he had few skill players left to create effective chain-moving plays. The defense allowed some big plays as well.
That being said, last week's predictions from Team SCU fell apart a bit - kind of like the Steelers did. The defense, who had been grabbing takeaways in chunks, gave up their streak in Week 11. T.J. Watt earned the lone sack on Baker Mayfield. Jaylen Samuels caught the lone Steelers touchdown pass and Pittsburgh didn't score again (not even a field goal) for the rest of the game. I predicted the following: On Thursday, the Steelers defensive backfield will hold (Odell Beckham Jr.) to less than 10 receptions. The Steelers held 'OBJ' to just four receptions for 60 yards (on ten targets) and no touchdowns, so there's at least one positive from last week.
This week's predictions
Noah Freeman: Just like the last time the Steelers faced the Bengals this season, they needed a bounce-back win to get momentum going. After starting out 0-3, the Bengals victory jump-started a streak with the Steelers winning 5-of-6 games. After an ugly loss to the Browns, along with more than a few injuries, another Bengals game will be the key to the Steelers rattling off more than a few wins. Pittsburgh will dominate from start to finish, regardless of who is on the field, and get ready for a much-needed rematch against the Browns. Meanwhile, racking up victories to make it into the playoffs, either as the division winner or as a Wild Card.
Derek Overly: The Steelers offense fell flat on its face against the Browns and needs to bounce back in a big way, and the 0-10 Bengals may be just what the doctor ordered. It won’t be a pretty performance by any means, but Mason (Rudolph) and company will be able to string together a couple scoring drives thanks to a short field, created by the defense forcing 3 turnovers. All in all, the Steelers win an ugly one here, sweeping the hapless Bengals.
Terry Fletcher: The last time the Steelers faced the Bengals, Pittsburgh gave them a 27-3 beat-down on Monday Night Football. But that was against Andy Dalton who is now benched for rookie Ryan Finley - who hasn’t fared much better with the Bengals sitting at 0-10. Now in saying that, the Steelers have struggled on offense since "Big Ben" Roethlisberger went down but the defense has carried the team with 5 wins until the ugly Thursday night game where they were barely heard from. At 12th in the league on defense vs the Bengals' 31st defense, I predict the Steelers defense will once again prevail with 2 scores and our offense will surprise with 2 scores as well. My only question mark is who will be the quarterback? We can assume Mason (Rudolph) but after that helmet blow to the head and poor play against the Browns will it be a "Duck" call (Devlin Hodges)? Time will tell. Either way, Steelers will squeak a 20-10 win and get back into this AFC wildcard hunt.
Brian Roach: I predict 950 "Grown Ass Man" moments. Sacks, INT's, whatever.
Christina Rivers: I chuckle at Brian's prediction but I admit that this should be one game that the Steelers defense gets an opportunity to showcase their dominance once again this season. I predict that between Cameron Heyward, Watt, and Bud Dupree, the Steelers earn at least three sacks in this game. I also predict that Pittsburgh earns at least one fortuitous takeaway on defense against the Bengals. Offensively, I see a couple of unexpected players stepping into the spotlight. I'll go so far as to say that Johnny Holton and James Washington up their game by grabbing big receptions and that the Steelers will earn 100 yards on the ground between their running backs.
Joe Kuzma: I'm going with 20+ scored by the offense this week. I think that's as bold as you can get, but I also believe they are going to fix the issues they've been having and getting someone like James Conner, or even Benny Snell, back into the rotation should help. I will preface this by saying Mason Rudolph throws two touchdown passes and the rest of those points may come off of Chris Boswell's foot, but I have no reason to believe that the Bengals offense will be able to accomplish much against the Steelers D on Sunday, giving Pittsburgh's offense more time to work the field.