The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals both headed into Week 10 with five victories over the course of their first eight games played. Pittsburgh, of course, was 5-2-1, while the Bengals were 5-3, so the former had the better record, but only by half a game, so possession of first place in the AFC North division could still be flipped on any given week.
The Steelers, however, did their part to delay that for at least another week, as they throttled the previously 6-2 Carolina Panthers by a score of 52-21 in a game that wasn’t even that close, a third touchdown being added in extended garbage time. In case you missed the game, to give you a sense of how one-sided it was, Joshua Dobbs was already in the game with 10 minutes to play.
The Steelers securing their sixth victory to go 6-2-1, however, means that they will say ahead of the Bengals, who have to play host to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in two days. The Saints have been one of the top teams in football this year, currently 7-1 as we sit here, Brees his usual excellent self, most notably completing over 76 percent (!) of his passes with just one interception.
Cincinnati will be hard-pressed to match the Saints’ offensive muster in their matchup without A.J. Green, who is expected to miss at least the next two games with an injury. At least it looks as though they will be getting back John Ross, however, who has missed the past several games, though Josh Malone just suffered a hamstring injury in practice. Running back Giovani Bernard has only practiced in a limited capacity, while Tyler Kroft remains on the rehab field.
Cincinnati has lost two of its past three games, including a last-minute loss to the Steelers four weeks ago. They were also dominated by the Kansas City Chiefs a week after that, with a 35-point defeat, but they did beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a week after that in a game that nearly went to overtime.
Their next two games are against the Saints at home and then with the Baltimore Ravens on the road, so it’s a big stretch for the Bengals if they mean to stay competitive with the Steelers, against whom they close out the season in the finale, which will take place in Pittsburgh.
The way the Steelers played last night, and have played throughout their now five-game winning streak, however, it doesn’t look as though they have much to worry about. Pittsburgh has some tough games ahead as well between now and then, but the Bengals also have to face the Chargers—even if they still play the Cleveland Browns twice, as well as the Oakland Raiders. I could easily see them losing four of their final eight games.