Hello, Guest!
-Wildcard Preview: Steelers & Bengals
By Chris Pokorny, PFCritics Writer
January 8, 2006
On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Cincinnati Bengals for the fourth game of the 2005-2006 NFL playoffs. Both teams have faced each other twice this season and absolutely hate each other. The competition will be fierce and both teams will take their intensity to a new level. The first time these two teams met each other, the Steelers came out on top on the road. The second time, the Bengals won in Pittsburgh after an offensive explosion. Now that these two teams meet for the third time of the season in the playoffs, who will come out on top?

Don't forget to bookmark PFCritics and discuss this post at PurelyWrestling.Com by joining the forums their! Also, sign up for our newsletter on the left to get FREE! content like the preview your viewing now right in your mailbox!
AFC Wildcard Playoff Game - Team Stats
Pittsburgh Steelers - #6 vs. #3 - Cincinnati Bengals
- Overall Record: 11-5
Road Record: 6-2
15th overall
(5th rush, 24th pass)
4th overall
(3rd rush, 16th pass)
- Overall Record: 11-5
Home Record: 5-3
6th overall
(11th rush, 5th pass)
28th overall
(20th rush, 26th pass)
Both Games From 2005-2006 Season
Quarterback vs. Quarterback
Ben Roethlisberger:
Game 1:
9 of 14 for 93 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception.
Game 2: 29 of 41 for 386 yards, 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions.

If the Steelers are going to win this game, as they did the first time, Big Ben cannot be forced to throw the football. It's not that he can't throw it, but the Steelers are clearly better when they milk the clock and run the football. Then when Roethlisberger decides to pass, his options are more open.
Carson Palmer:
Game 1: 21 of 36 for 227 yards, 2 interceptions.
Game 2: 22 of 38 for 227 yards, 3 touchdowns.

Note: Palmer almost had identical stats in both games, except that the interceptions and touchdowns were reversed. Palmer will throw the football and will try to get the ball to his talented receivers down the field on a consistent basis.
Running Backs vs. Running Backs
Willie Parker:
Game 1: 18 carries, 131 yards, 7.3 avg, 1 touchdowns.
Game 2: 15 carries, 71 yards, 4.7 avg. 1 catch, 11 yards.

Although Parker has not had a lot of carries against the Bengals, he has successfully been able to carve them apart. The Steelers like to rotate with Jerome Bettis, who had decent success against the Bengals this year. Pittsburgh must wear down Cincinnati with the running game.
Rudi Johnson:
Game 1:
12 carries, 65 yards, 5.4 avg. 2 catches, 1 yard.
Game 2: 21 carries, 98 yards, 4.7 avg, 2 touchdowns. 1 catch, 5 yards.

Note: Johnson will not get a whole lot of carries since Palmer throws the ball often, but he has had success against one of the best run defenses in the league. When the Steelers play back to guard the run, Johnson finds a lot of his yardage on draw plays up the middle.
Receivers vs. Receivers
Hines Ward:
Game 1:
3 catches, 35 yards, 1 touchdown.
Game 2:
9 catches, 135 yards, 2 touchdowns.

Heath Miller:

Game 1: 6 catches, 58 yards, 1 touchdown.
Game 2: 3 catches, 44 yards.

The stats may seem surprising. When Ward was not active really, the Steelers won. When he had an amazing game, they lost. Regardless, Ward and Miller were Roethlisberger's favorite options against the Bengals in both games. The Bengals defense will have trouble covering them, so their schemes will have to be designed accordingly.
Chad Johnson:
Game 1:
4 catches, 94 yards.
Game 2:
5 catches, 54 yards.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh:
Game 1:
7 catches, 75 yards.
Game 2:
5 catches, 88 yards, 2 touchdowns.

Note: Chad Johnson has yet to have a breakout game against the Steelers this year, but Houshmandzadeh has been able to find a whole in Pittsburgh's defense. The Bengals will not force the issue with Johnson if he is not open. If the Steelers leave him one-on-one though, expect Palmer to take that shot ever time.
Defense vs. Defense
Game 1: 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 13 points.
Game 2:
1 sack, 38 points.

Note: The reason the Steelers lost the second game? No turnovers. Not a single one. Pittsburgh is one of the best defenses in the league, but only managed a sack on the stat sheet besides tackles.
Game 1: 1 sack, 1 interception, 1 fumble, 27 points.
Game 2:
2 sacks, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble, 31 points.

Note: Now, the reason the Bengals won? Sure they had offense, but their excellent field position from clutch turnovers was a major part of their success. They allow a lot of points, but creating turnover is their niche.
Special Teams vs. Special Teams
Antwaan Randle El: He is a threat to take it the distance on any punt return, having 2 touchdowns during the regular season.

The Steelers can count on Jeff Reed and have a fairly explosive return game.
Tab Perry: Perry has been an outstanding returner for the Bengals. He establishes good field position for them consistently throughout the game.

Note: Like the Steelers, the Bengals can count on Shayne Graham and have a good return game.
Final Analysis
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Last year, Ben Roethlisberger failed to come through in the playoffs after an outstanding start to the season. There is less pressure on him this time around, because he knows what he feels like to lose and does not want to go there again. Roethlisberger needs to use his legs in this game to roll out of the pocket and hit the deep ball to counter the Bengals interception-ready defense.

Most of all for the Steelers, they must run the football. That is the foundation of this team, regardless of what others may think. The Bengals do not have a good run defense, and Willie Parker could take one the distance. Jerome Bettis has the experience in the playoffs and will stop at nothing to try and make the Super Bowl in his last season.

Defensively, the Steelers have to find a way to create turnovers. If they play back on Palmer, they better confuse him with schemes. If they blitz him, they better make sure they don't leave the slant patterns wide open. It's just so hard to be a great defense and get beaten by a great offense. The adjustments that the Steelers make during a no huddle situation will be what counts.
The Bengals are back in the playoffs. Although Carson Palmer has been off of his game the last few weeks of the season, you could tell that the intensity level of the Bengals was toned down to prepare and get healthy for the postseason. Palmer posted near-MVP statistics this year, and could be the next "Peyton Manning" guru on offense that everyone talks about.

The Bengals always come up with excellent run-oriented plays. Rudi Johnson always has big holes opened for him, and the screen with Chris Perry works to perfection. However, the Steelers still have a very good run defense. The Bengals cannot run at will, they must pick their spots and call different, unique plays.

The main concern for the Bengals is their defense. They did fairly well in the first half of the year, but they looked horrible almost the entire second half of the season. The Bengals are not about stopping yards though, they are about creating turnovers. If the Steelers protect the ball the entire game, it'll make it very tough for the Bengals offense to go the entire field during the game.
AFC Wildcard Prediction
Winner - Cincinnati Bengals
When teams face each other for the third time in a season, you never quite know what may happen. The game could be comparable to the first two games, or it could be completely different. I expect this game to be just like the second game was. Both defenses will seem like they are not even on the field, as the opposing offenses cruise down the field. Palmer and the Bengals are more prone to strike quickly, and even if they fall behind, can get back in the game at any second. The Bengals will advance to take on the Denver Broncos. Final Score: Bengals 30, Steelers 27.

NFL tickets and Super Bowl tickets

Meet Doc's Advisory Board for:

PFC Pick'em
- The 2008 PFCritics Pick'em Challenge is now open for registration. Join Now and win big! Sponsored by sportsbettingstats.com
Add to My Yahoo!

© 2004-2024 PFCritics.com. All Rights Reserved.