Sporting a losing record this late into the season for the first time since 2006, the Pittsburgh Steelers meet the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday night at Paul Brown Stadium.
The 2-3 Steelers dropped below .500 last week with a 26-23 letdown against the Tennesee Titans, led by running back Chris Johnson’s 91 rushing yards, and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s 290 yards and touchdown pass.
Johnson singlehandedly ran over the Steelers defense, which also gave up six receptions and 71 yards to Titans receiver Kendall Wright.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did his part with 363 passing yards, topped by an 82-yard toss to receiver Mike Wallace for a score. Wallace finished with two catches for 94 yards, and running back Isaac Redman had four receptions for 105 yards.
Pittsburgh has dealt with injuries throughout the season, and Sunday will be no different, with safety Troy Polamalu, right tackle Marcus Gilbert, and linebacker Chris Carter likely out with various leg injuries.
After just one game back, veteran Rashard Mendenhall is listed questionable with an Achilles injury, and so is Redman.
Cincinnati is relatively healthy, but has still dropped their last two games, and hope to avoid their first three-game losing streak since 2010’s 4-12 team lost 10 straight.
The Bengals and quarterback Andy Dalton fell to the then-winless Cleveland Browns in a 34-24 loss last week. Dalton threw three interceptions, with two in the fourth quarter, and finished with 381 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Receiver AJ Green continued his dominate play with seven catches for 135 yards and two scores, but the Bengals and their 21st ranked rushing offense only gained 76 yards on the ground.
Cincinnati has failed to beat the Steelers since 2009, when they swept the season series, and Pittsburgh has taken 10 of the last 11 games at Paul Brown.
The Steelers won the last meeting in December last season 35-7, thanks to a pair of touchdowns by Mendenhall and Wallace, and a 60-yard punt return by receiver Antonio Brown.
The Bengals are still waiting on the debut of first-round rookie cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who practiced all week, but is still listed as questionable with a knee injury.
Betting Odds: Pittsburgh is favored by 1 point
Over/Under: 45.5 points
Prediction: Pittsburgh has found ways to win inspite of serious injuries, but have an uphill battle against a Bengals' offense that can put up points quickly. If both Mendenhall and Redman miss the game, it'll be up to Roethlisberger to carry the load, and he will in a wire-to-wire victory for the Steelers.
Predicted Score: Pittsburgh 24 , Cincinnati 20