Tune in at 1:00 PM ET as the Bengals take on the Steelers. Rob Sturney will be liveblogging for your enjoyment.
I'm Rob Sturney here with the Score's ongoing coverage of the NFL. Today we have a vital AFC North matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cincy is one of the hottest teams in the league with five wins in their last six, while the Steelers are struggling, having lost four of their last five games.
The Bengals win and they have a playoff spot, ending the Steelers' chances at the same time.
The question is: what's wrong with the Steelers? Turnovers, a failed running game, the inability to cause turnovers, age, key injuries to their stars and O-line.
What's working for the Bengals? Dalton to AJ Green, good running from BenJarvus Green-Ellis (BGE), an effective blitz, and an overall defensive stiffness.
BGE has had six runs of 20+ yards in the last 5 games.
In the last six games, the Tigers have kept their opponents to 12.5 pts per game and enjoyed 20 sacks.
The Bengals will be without cornerback Kirkpatrick with a concussion and kicker Nugent with a bad calf. Cornerback Jones, running back Peerman and fullback Pressley all have "knocks".
Taylor is still out for the Steelers. Wideout Sanders, and cornerbacks Lewis, Van Dyke and Allen are all playing hurt, as is right tackle Adams.
If Ben Roethlisberger wins today, he'll have a lifetime record of 14-4 versus the Bengals, which would be one win more than Warren Moon.
The Steelers need to get running. They are 6-1 when they rush for more than 95 yards. They rushed for only 69 yards in the last two games, and have failed to run more than 100 yards in five of the last six games.
A positive turnover ratio would be nice as well.
While the Steelers' defense is still first ranked in passing and fourth in rushing, they fail to create turnovers.
Now, last week, the Bengals beat the Eagles 34-13 with Dalton going 13 of 27 for 127 yards and a touchdown. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 25 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown.
The Steelers lost a classic game versus the Cowboys 27-24. Big Ben had a great game of 24/40 for 339 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he threw that key interception in overtime.
It'll be interesting to see how Pittsburgh's makeshift O-line handles the Bengals' aggressive 4-3.
I keep looking at their rankings every week expecting it to go down. The Bengals have the 12th ranked passing defense and 9th ranked rushing D.
The reality of the situation is that the Bengals don't do well versus the Steelers and the Ravens. Pittsburgh hosts the Browns next week while the Bengals host the Ravens.
I'm just hoping for another humdinger of a game.
AJ Green has 85 receptions for 1208 yards (8th in the NFL) and 11 touchdowns. The Steelers' top wideout is Wallace, with 63 catches for 853 yards and 8 TD's.
If the Bengals get to the playoffs for the second year in a row, it'll be the first time they've made the post-season in two consecutive years since 1982.
That was a good victory. My word, what has happened to the Lions this year?
Let's see how things go for play calling this week for the black-and-gold. Roethlisberger was critical of OC Todd Haley's plays in the second half versus Dallas, specifically the lack of no huddle and not making Miller a target.
Yes, I covered that Colts comeback win versus Detroit. It looked like they had that one in the bag.
We're almost ready to get going here at the Big Ketchup Bottle in Pittsburgh.
I must agree with you. Brown is about to kick off to Rainey. He'll carry it out to the 34. Well done.
PIT 1st and 10 (PIT 34): Dwyer gets the call and turns the right edge for a pick up of 13 yards.
PIT 1st and 10 (PIT 47): Dwyer can't twist and turn his way out of a no gain on his next carry.
I can't wait to see how Luck's first playoffs go.
PIT 2nd and 10: Big Ben tucks it into Dwyer once more and the running back makes a pick up of three.
PIT 3rd and 7: Ben drops back and gets SACKED. Atkins with his 11.5 sack of the season.
Her's Butler to punt for Pittsburgh. Tate fair catches at his own 12 yard line.
Well, it wasn't a three-and-out, but it wasn't an astonishing opening drive for the Steelers.
CIN 1st and 10 (CIN 12): Dalton in the shotgun. He hits Green on the right side on a short route. Green gets 13 yards.
CIN 1st and 10: BGE tries to probe the gut and rushes for a couple.
CIN 2nd and 8 (CIN 30): SACK. Timmons takes Dalton down. The line broke down very quickly.
CIN 3rd and 14: Dalton in the shotgun. SACK as he started to run. Timmons and Keisel this time.
That's the kind of playmaking the Steeler D needs to make. FLAG on Keisel for the celebration.
CIN 1st and 10 (CIN 37): The crowd is pretty cheesed off. The officials are conferring. BGE gets taken down behind the line of scrimmage by Polamalu.
CIN 2nd and 10: I guess Green-Ellis got back to the line of scrimmage. Dalton finds Green on the left side and the top Bengal wide up makes a gain of five.