The Cincinnati Bengals begin AFC North play on Sunday with a trip to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers at Heinz Field. Both the Bengals and Steelers are coming off losses in Week 2 and expect this week’s game to be a physical battle.
If Cincinnati wants to get its first win in Pittsburgh since 2015, they’ll have to play much better on offense than they did against the Chicago Bears.
Defensively, the Bengals need to continue to play at the level they have in the last two weeks. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s defense is a top-10 unit in the following categories: Points per game (22.0), yards per game (304.5) and sacks (6).
Here how the Bengals can go on the road and beat the Steelers:
Bengals play a clean game on offense, no turnovers
The Steelers want to create turnovers defensively every week. All-Pro linebacker T.J. Watt already has forced two fumbles and he’s shown over the years he’s more than capable of taking over a game for Pittsburgh when facing Cincinnati.
Quarterback Joe Burrow threw three interceptions and wide receiver Tee Higgins had one fumble in the 20-17 loss to the Chicago Bears. Winning in a hostile environment is already hard enough, the Bengals can’t make it any harder on themselves.
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Another way to ensure turnovers don’t take place? Better protection for Burrow. The main storyline that’s currently surrounding the Bengals through two games is lack of protection for Cincinnati’s franchise quarterback.
Burrow has been sacked nine times, tied for the second-most in the NFL, and was hit nine times against the Bears. The less times he’s hit, the fewer opportunities the ball ends up on the ground or in the hands of a Pittsburgh Steeler.
Run, Joe Mixon, Run
The Bengals showed how potent their offense could be in Week 1 when the run and pass game are both operating at a high level. Running back Joe Mixon rushed for more than 100 yards against the Vikings and was held to 69 yards in Chicago.
Head coach Zac Taylor wants the Bengals identity on offense to start with the run to open up their vertical attack and if they can do that, Cincinnati’s offense will present multiple challenges for Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Keith Butler. The Steelers have the 5th-ranked run defense in the NFL.
Keep feeding Ja’Marr Chase
Cincinnati’s first-round pick has lived up to the expectations thus far. The rookie has a touchdown in each game and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
In fact, Chase spoke about wanting his team to take more shots down the field following the loss to the Bears. Through two weeks, Chase has seven catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He wants the ball and Burrow should keep throwing it his way.
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