The Cincinnati Bengals are entering week 12 as they prepare to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. With every game of the season, there will be things to watch and focus on. Here are five things to watch for in week 12.
1. Emotional Football
This is a rivalry game that has produced some unique moments in the past. There has been trash talk, coaches on the field and much more. The Bengals will be hoping to get their first win of the season, which could make things more emotional. Hopefully, they can use it to play better football rather than picking up penalties.
What could make this game have some extra emotion is what happened on Thursday Night Football between the Browns and Steelers. With those two teams brawling and the Steelers having Maurkice Pouncey suspended, the Bengals should be on high alert to not let anything escalate as it has in the past.
2. Billy Price’s Play
Billy Price, the first-round draft pick from 2018, started this season on the bench after having an injury-plagued first season with the team. He has since entered the lineup at guard after playing center last season. He hasn’t played well this year and hopefully that starts changing. Pro Football Focus currently has him graded at 39.9 this season.
These last seven games of the season, the Bengals need to be evaluating their players to see what might work for 2020. It would be good to find out if Price can play for the future, as the team has to worry about next season and his rookie contract being up in a few years.
3. Tyler Boyd’s Targets
This week, Tyler Boyd vented his frustration over his lack of targets. He is the most talented receiver that has played this season, but only was targeted three times in the game. Boyd finished the game with one catch for no yards. It is a head-scratcher as to why he wasn’t targeted more heavily in a game that was close.
Ryan Finley will start again for the Bengals after a rough go of it in his first two career games. It will be on him to target Boyd more heavily, especially if A.J. Green doesn’t play again this week. The last thing this team needs is more frustrated players, so Finley will need to find a way to keep Boyd happy this week.
4. Running Game vs. a Solid Run Defense
Over the last two weeks, the Bengals have run the ball more effectively than most weeks of the season. Joe Mixon has played well and the team had two straight weeks of 100 rushing yards. Last week against the Raiders, the Bengals rushed for 173 with Mixon having 86 of them.
Now the Bengals will play a decent run defense in the Steelers. Pittsburgh ranks 15th against the run this season, but they are much better than the stats show. With a defense that will stack the box to make Finley beat them with his arm, it will be interesting to see what the running game can do. A good game will make it three games in a row of much better running performances, which is a small positive for the season.
5. Will the Defense Keep it Up?
Against the Raiders, the Bengals had one of their best defensive performances of the season. They bent, but they didn’t break that often. Cincinnati allowed just 17 points to the Raiders, which was the best performance of the season. Now, they will have to try to find a way to sustain their success.
It shouldn’t be the hardest thing to stop the Steelers, who have relied on their defense to win games this year. With Mason Rudolph at quarterback for the most part, the Steelers have averaged 20.0 points per game. The Steelers are rightfully favored to win, but the Bengals could hold them to only a few points if they play like they did last week.