5 Reasons Big Ben and the Pittsburgh Steelers Could End the Cincinnati Bengals’ Season Early


Big Ben and the Pittsburg Steelers could spell big trouble for the Cincinnati Bengals’ playoff hopes. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals have done a nice job the last couple of weeks in rebounding from blowout losses to the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts that threatened to derail their season. Even with that surge, though the Bengals will have a tough time returning to the playoffs this season, and one of the major obstacles in their way are the suddenly stellar Pittsburgh Steelers, led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Here are five reasons that Big Ben may spell Big Trouble for the Bengals form here on out.

Big Ben Is Better Than Ever

Over the last two games, Big Ben has thrown 12 touchdown passes, more than any NFL quarterback ever on a two-game span. Roethlisberger’s excellence goes beyond two games, though, as he’s on pace to shatter most of his personal career bests. At age 32, he’s even cut down his interception rate to league-leading levels (0.9) and may be poised to take the Steelers on another deep playoff run.

Steelers’ Schedule

Aiding the Steelers in that quest is their schedule over the last eight weeks of the season, which is both weak and timely. Road games against the New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, and Atlanta Falcons should yield three wins, and, while home games against the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs aren’t gimmes, they are not automatic losses, either.

The other two games? A home-and-home mashup with the Bengals, which could go a long way to determining who wins the AFC North.

Le’Veon Bell

The Bengals continue to struggle against the run, especially with linebacker Vontaze Burfict on the sidelines (or out of the building), and that’s really bad news with the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell staring them down twice in the final seven  games. A big (6’2″, 230 pounds), bruising runner, Bell has upped his yards per carry from 3.5 to 4.7 in his second year out of Michigan State and is a top-five back in most rushing categories.

If Bell can level Cincinnati with a couple of 100-yard efforts, it could mean the end of the Bengals’ playoff hopes.

The Cleveland Browns

Nobody really expected the Cleveland Browns to do much this year, or any year, right? But here they are at mid-season, with a 5-3 record and very much in the playoff race. A strong Browns team is especially problematic for the Bengals, because the two teams will play twice over the final eight weeks, including this Thursday on short rest for the Bengals. The Steelers have already completed their tussles with the Browns, splitting the series.

It’s conceivable, though admittedly not likely, that the Browns could knock off the Bengals twice between now and December 14. If that happens, then the finale in Pittsburgh on December 28 might not even matter for the Bengals.


A.J. Green returned to play on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars just in time for running back Giovani Bernard and Burfict to bow out. Even in the midst of his career game, rookie running back Jeremy Hill missed time with a knee injury. The Steelers have had some problems on the health front, too, but have mostly not missed a beat. If these trends continue, a healthy Steelers team has a huge advantage over a banged up Bengals squad, though the injury to Troy Polamalu situation bears watching.

The Bengals have been up and down so far this season, and they’re trending up again, finishing the first half with a 5-2-1 record. They should be in a strong position to push into the playoffs, but several factors may work against them. The surprising Steelers loom as perhaps the most daunting task for coach Marvin Lewis’s team as they seek a fourth straight post-season berth.