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Pittsburgh Steelers Look to Bounce Back Against the Cincinnati Bengals

December 14th, 2013 at 11:55 PM
By Mark Mihalko

It is crazy what another sub-par week in the NFL will cause. As we sit on the eve of the Pittsburgh Steelers first meaningless contest of 2013 against the Cincinnati Bengals, the team still faces many unanswered questions. The biggest being, with their playoff hope dashed, why are they not looking at some of the young players on the roster?

'Winding Up' photo (c) 2006, Joey Gannon - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Former head coach Chuck Noll may applaud this decision, but it is also hard to swallow considering the salary cap nightmare that sits in this offseason. This week memories of the last salary cap nightmare should sit fresh in fans minds, as the Steelers prepare for their former starting outside linebacker James Harrison, who is out to prove something to the coaching staff, fans and front office.  

The Steelers are still searching for answers on defense and are hoping some continuity can develop and the unit can stop allowing huge plays. With Brett Keisel out again and nose tackle Steve McLendon a question mark, no real help appears to be on the horizon. That is an unfortunate situation, as the Bengals boast one of the more explosive offenses in the league. The team did sign undrafted rookie free agent Brian Arnfelt from the practice squad (waived Kion Wilson), but that is likely for nothing more than depth.

Key Match-Up: The easy selection would again be the defense. Instead, the key match-up will be the patchwork offensive line against the Bengals front seven. The Steelers must do a better job running the ball and that has to start in the trenches. Last week, the use of play action was effective because was decent on the ground, but this is a better front seven.  For the Steelers to be successful they must be able to achieve balance on offense and the offensive line must lead the way.

Projected Inactive List: The two headlines will likely be defensive end Brett Keisel and nose tackle Steve McLendon. Joining Keisel and McLendon on the sidelines this week will likely be quarterback Landry Jones, wide receiver Derek Moye, tight end David Paulson, guard David Snow and cornerback Isaiah Green.  

Bengals Injury Report (via NFL.com

BenJarvus Green-Ellis

RB

Illness

Full Participation in Practice

Probable

Terence Newman

CB

Knee

Did Not Participate In Practice

Out

Wallace Gilberry

DE

Knee

Full Participation in Practice

Probable

Marvin Jones

WR

Shoulder

Full Participation in Practice

Probable

Kevin Zeitler

G

Foot

Full Participation in Practice

Probable

James Harrison

LB

Illness

Did Not Participate In Practice

Probable

George Iloka

S

Concussion

Full Participation in Practice

Probable

Vontaze Burfict

LB

Illness

Full Participation in Practice

Probable

Steelers Injury Report (via NFL.com)

Steve McLendon

DT

Ankle

Did Not Participate In Practice

Questionable

Troy Polamalu

S

Shoulder

Full Participation in Practice

Probable

Kelvin Beachum

T

Knee

Full Participation in Practice

Probable

Emmanuel Sanders

WR

Foot

Full Participation in Practice

Probable

Brett Keisel

DE

Foot

Did Not Participate In Practice

Out

Marcus Gilbert

T

Ankle

Full Participation in Practice

Probable

Evander Hood

DE

Ankle

Full Participation in Practice

Probable

Jerricho Cotchery

WR

Shoulder

Full Participation in Practice

Probable

David DeCastro

G

Foot

Full Participation in Practice

Probable

Prediction:  To this point, the 2013 season has been unkind to the Steelers and their fans. They played the Bengals tough the first time in 2013, but the defense appeared to be a different unit. That trend will continue this season, as the defense forces some turnovers and the Steelers use a quick-strike passing attack to hold the ball. This will be a close game, but the Bengalsl 24-17.

Also, 

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Tags: Brett Keisel, Brian Arnfelt, David DeCastro, David Paulson, Football, James Harrison, Kion Wilson, NFL, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers, Steve McLendon

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