There’s no place like home.
But Cincinnati is a close second.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have owned the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium, going 5-1 since 2010. Needless to say, they’re looking to turn that five into a six Saturday night.
The Steelers won in Cincinnati once already, beating the Bengals 33-20 on December 13th. They won their lone trip there in every other year since 2010 with just one exception, a 20-10 loss early in the 2012 season. They would exact their revenge at home later that year with a 30-20 victory.
It’s especially notable for the simple fact of of how good the Bengals have been at home, especially over the last three seasons. They’ve lost only four games at home over that span, two of them coming against Pittsburgh. 1-2 versus the Steelers, 19-2 against everybody else.
There isn’t a great reason for the Steelers’ particularly strong success outside of the obvious explanation of just playing well in competitive, AFC North showdowns. There may not be anything to draw on for Saturday’s game but at the least, it provides an extra boost of confidence, and maybe even comfort, for this Wild Card matchup.
One player will have to play significantly better the second time around this season is Ben Roethlisberger. While his performance against the Bengals this year wasn’t terrible, led by a stellar completion percentage, he failed to throw a touchdown and was intercepted once, a vertical shot in the end zone snagged by Reggie Nelson.
Nelson will be one of the X-Factors Sunday, one of the few players in the league to own Roethlisberger. Since 2010 when Nelson signed with Cincinnati, he’s picked Ben six times. No one else in the league has more than two. In Roethlisberger’s entire career, which includes three seasons before Nelson even entered the league, Nelson still has the lead with his six, no one else having more than three. This year alone, Nelson has snagged three.