Game Day Preview: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers

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At 5-8 the black and gold’s chances of making the playoffs appear all but over. At this point they are simply playing for pride, for their jobs in 2014 and to just get to .500.

The play of the team, specifically on defense, in recent weeks has been a big problem.  Is there any chance the team can close out the year on a strong note and try to put something together heading into 2014?

They’ll start that mission by hosting the first place Bengals who appear to be on the verge of clinching their 3rd straight playoff berth.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) congratulates wide receiver A.J. Green (18) after Green caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Dalton in the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) congratulates wide receiver A.J. Green (18) after Green caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Dalton in the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)

Here are the Keys to A Steelers Victory:

1. Todd Haley needs to allow Big Ben to run the no huddle and call the plays. The offense is most effective when this is the case. With Roethlisberger being in his 10th season, he’s seen it all and done it all and he knows this offense and the personnel on this unit better than anyone.

2. The D must find a way to stop AJ Green. Who’s going to do it or how will remain to be seen but it’s a good bet it won’t be Ike Taylor. Taylor has failed miserably in the last month or so in regards to covering the oppositions’ top receiver. Last week that job fell to Cortez Allen and it’s a good possibility he’ll get the nod on Sunday night to stop Green.

3. LeVeon Bell must run the football effectively. The Steelers must find a way to run the ball more often and exercise ball control. They need to keep the Bengals offense off the field.

4. Antonio Brown needs to make a big play. He’s easily the biggest threat the Steelers have and he’s going to have to step up on offense as he usually does or even better, make a big time return on special teams.

Here are a Few Things to Watch:

1. Ike Taylor or Cortez Allen-Who’s going to get the call to play against AJ Green. If it’s Allen, that could be the sign that we’ve seen the last of Ike Taylor at the end of this season.

2. Jarvis Jones-Where’s he been? He hasn’t shown much in this rookie campaign but with the Steelers out of the playoff chase will he get more snaps to allow him to gain more experience?

3. Big Ben-It’s hard not to put him on this list, he’s having another amazing season and without him this team would be lucky to have any wins at all. He’s capable of making plays on a consistent basis with absolutely no help at all.

4. Lawrence Timmons-He is once again leading the team in tackles, quietly. He just goes about his job week in and week out and takes care of his business. I look for him to put up at least 10 tackles on Sunday night.

Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association http://www.steelnationassociation.com- Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at mike@steelnationassociation.com.

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