By Andrea Shellow @AyeJaieEss
Last week the Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) took on the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5). Unfortunately, the performance that the Bengals gave in the 1st half just couldn’t carry over into the 2nd half. During the 1st half we saw a 39 yard penalty against the Steelers that led the Bengals to a touchdown, but only after four attempts and finally, a quarterback sneak.
For what it is worth, Cincinnati’s first 4 possessions during the first half of the game all led to scoring opportunities, 2 field goals and 2 touchdowns (Randy Bullock made all PATs). We also saw that the Bengals forced the Steelers to only complete field goals during the 1st half, but that is where the excitement ends. During the 2nd half Cincinnati was scoreless and Pittsburgh came back to win it all.
During the 2nd half, the offense was absent and I’m not sure where they took their early vacation to. In case you didn’t watch the game, the Steelers demolished the Bengals with 6 fields goals, yes 6, and a touchdown. With this loss Cincinnati’s season will not extend past week 17. For the first time since 2010, Cincinnati will not be in the playoffs.
I have a bit of good news though; WR AJ Green is projected to play this week against the Houston Texans (8-6). Cincinnati will travel to Houston to play on Christmas Eve. Green has been out with a hamstring sprain since Week 11 against Buffalo Bills. He went out early in the first quarter. It will be interesting to see him back because we have seen so many players step up in his absence.
Houston is not going to be a walk in the park for Cincinnati, as much of the season has not been. This team is #1 in their division and has their eyes set on the playoffs. They will fight for this win. Cincinnati and Houston have met a total of 10 times. Their regular season series is tied 4-4 and postseason is 2-0 to the Texans.
In order for Cincinnati to pull out this win there are a couple of things that would need to happen. First, we will need to see some slack be picked up in the place of Tyler Eifert. Eifert has been big on giving red zone TD conversions this year. That has been helping us greatly. With him out this week, due to back issues, it will be interesting to see who steps up. We are also going to be missing Vontaze Burfict. Burfict has been an assest, as well, in the last few weeks. He is out with a concussion/knee injury.
Second, I’d be happy to see what RB Rex Burkhead will do this week. This season Burkhead has 214 rushing yards (including 1 rushing TD) and 238 receiving yards. It’s worth noting that Burkhead has only played in 6 games this season. His numbers are very impressive and could assist in a win.
Additionally, Jeremy Hill has been clutch in the Rushing/Rushing TD department. If Cincinnati is going to take advantage they will need to continue to use him as a weapon and protect him as he does it. This season alone Hill has 215 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns. He has been an asset to the team in spite of the record that they have.
I also would like to see performances from Tyler Boyd and Brandon Lafell. Over the last few weeks these guys have been showing up and I personally have enjoyed it. I know I can’t be the only one. Let’s see if Cincinnati has as much faith in this win as we do!
FunFact: I am a resident of Houston, Texas and was born in Ohio #OhioRaisedTexasPaid – I enjoy this game every season!
Featured image courtesy: NFL Spin Zone
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