The Steelers, in the past, have had a rough habit of overlooking teams that haven’t been competed very well during the season. The most recent example of this was when the Steelers went up against the Green Bay Packers and were almost upset on their own home turf. The Packers backup quarterback Brett Hundley was giving the Steelers a definite run for their money this past Sunday. The same thing occurred when the Steelers faced off against the Indianapolis Colts following a similar Week 3 performance.
With a face-off against the New England Patriots starting to emerge in only a few weeks, it would be easy for the Steelers to simply graze over their upcoming game against the Cincinnati Bengals. I mean, it’s not too hard to overlook a team that you already hold a four-game lead over and a three-game lead over the Baltimore Ravens who are sitting in second place. But it looks like Mike Tomlin isn’t letting the Steelers take the Bengals lightly.
“They’re riding a two-game winning streak. It’s critical ball for them and us. We always respect that venue, we respect primetime football, it’s an honor and a privilege to play primetime football, one that our guys really embrace and enjoy.”
“It’s AFC North football for us, it’ll be highly charged I’d imagine, emotional environment, we’ve gotta keep our poise. It’s reasonable to expect our guys to do that.”
Tomlin undoubtedly knows that the Steelers will be facing off against a very different team than the one they faced off against earlier this season. The Bengals were in pieces earlier this season. Now they are playing like a potential playoff team. According to Tomlin, the Bengals have figured themselves out.
“When I look at their tape, I see increased clarity in terms of who they are and how they want to attack you. The last time we played these guys they were recently going through a coordinator change, they were trying to figure out a running back division of labor, how they were going to supplement A.J. Green in the passing game, Tyler Boyd missed some time.
“One of the things that stands out to me is that they have some more clarity in terms of division of labor. They had a three-man tackle rotation the last time we played them, now they’ve got two guys solidly at the tackle position, they had a three-man running back rotation, now it appears that Joe Mixon is their guy for all situations, and they simply supplement him with Giovanni Bernard. They had recently lost Tyler Eifert the last time we were preparing for them. It looks like they’ve got great clarity in the division of labor at the tight end position now, Kroft is their guy, he’s got five touchdowns.”