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Game Scout: Bengals at Steelers

The SportsXchange

Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8)

Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh - TV: NBC

*TV announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya

*Keys to the game: Rookie RB Le'Veon Bell averages 82 rushing yards in division games. The Steelers need the threat of Bell to keep QB Ben Roethlisberger confident in the pocket after a superb recent run -- 11 touchdowns, zero interceptions, 107.8 passer rating in the Steelers' past four games. Roethlisberger was 20 of 37 in the Bengals' 20-10 win Week 2, but Cincinnati lost two Pro Bowl defenders -- CB Leon Hall and DT Geno Atkins -- since then and the Steelers will have room to work outside. Bengals RB Giovani Bernard scored both touchdowns in the Week 2 win and racked up 148 yards from scrimmage last week. Lacking team speed, Pittsburgh doesn't match up well with such intermediate-area receivers. Steelers CB Ike Taylor limited WR A.J. Green in the first matchup, holding him without a catch longer than 10 yards for the second time in three meetings. QB Andy Dalton was successful working inside-out, throwing to TEs Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Greshman in the area vacated by the linebackers in the Steelers' patented fire zone blitz.

*Matchup to watch - Steelers WR Antonio Brown vs. Bengals cornerbacks: Adam Jones can be physical at the line but the Steelers slide Brown around the formation and behind bunched formations to free him up for a clean release. Brown is 10 receptions shy of 100 and 159 receiving yards away from the single-season team record.

*Player spotlight - Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick: Terence Newman (knee) is out at least two weeks. Kirkpatrick could get his first NFL start against the Steelers and has played well the past three weeks.

*Fast facts: The Bengals are 14-1 when Dalton has a passer rating of 100-plus. ... Roethlisberger is 14-6 career against the Steelers.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Pittsburgh is 5-4 since a winless September, including three losses by a total of 11 points. Ben Roethlisberger feasts on a shorthanded secondary to reset the AFC playoff seedings picture.

*Our pick: Steelers 20-19
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