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Old 10-28-2007, 06:32 AM   #1
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Default Game 7 Matchup: Steelers vs. Bengals

Game 7 Matchup: Steelers vs. Bengals
Gerry Dulac breaks down the divisional rivalry
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

What the Steelers will do: The Bengals have the league's 29th ranked defense (31.2 ppg), mainly because they are weak at linebacker. Ben Roethlisberger has never thrown a lot of passes in a game in Cincinnati (82 in four games). Instead, he has used the run to set up big pass plays. However, the Steelers might attack rookie nickel back Leon Hall, who will be matched in the slot against either Hines Ward or Nate Washington. The Bengals allow an average of 135 yards rushing per game (27th in the NFL), which would appear to be a mismatch against Willie Parker. But, then, that didn't seem to matter in Denver.

What the Bengals will do: Since Bob Bratkowski became offensive coordinator, they try to spread the Steelers' defense with multiple receiver formations and run the ball with Rudi Johnson. But Johnson (hamstring) is not expected to play today. He will be replaced by Kenny Watson. Because of injury and suspension, QB Carson Palmer has been forced to lean on Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Compounding their problems, they have started four different offensive line combinations in six games.

Keep an eye on ...

OLB Robert Geathers: He was switched from defensive end during the off week despite being the team's leading sacker (10 1/2) in 2006. Geathers is 6-3, 265 pounds and will create a matchup problem because he has to be blocked by a running back or tight end in some pass-rush situations. The switch of Geathers, though, crystallizes the problem with the Bengals' defense. Along with MLB Anthony Schlagel, who was claimed off waivers Sept. 2, and backup OLB Dhani Jones, who was signed Sept. 19, the Bengals have three linebackers who did not play the position for them in training camp.


Game: Steelers (4-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-4).

When: 1 p.m.

Where: Paul Brown Stadium.


Radio: WDVE-FM (102.5), WBGG-AM (970).


The Bengals have lost their past six to the Steelers in Paul Brown Stadium, but are coming off a victory against the lowly Jets (1-6). This is the start of a three-game stretch vs. their AFC North opponents. A victory and another at home against the Ravens Nov. 5 will go a long way toward all but ending the division race by mid-November.

Keys to victory

To win, the Bengals must ...

1. Be bad with Chad. Chad Johnson has never had big games vs. the Steelers (23 catches, 346 yards, 1 TD in the past six meetings).

2. Keep Ben in the pen. The secondary does not play with discipline and can get out of position when Roethlisberger moves around.

3. Make it elementary for Watson. Running at the right side of the Steelers' line (Nick Eason replaces Aaron Smith) should be no-brainer.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1. Pressure Palmer. They cannot afford to give the Bengals' quarterback too much time to throw.

2. Run, run, run. The Steelers have to do a better job of keeping their defense off the field, something they did not do in Denver.

3. Hall in deep passes. The Bengals' rookie cornerback has been susceptible to long pass plays for touchdowns this season.
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