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Week 2: Steelers-Bengals matchup analysis

The SportsXchange

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)

Monday, 8:20 p.m. ET, at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati - TV: ESPN

*TV announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters

*Keys to the game: The Steelers have won five of the past six meetings, but the Bengals 13-10 victory last Dec. 23 was a momentous one in the Cincinnati locker room. QB Andy Dalton's primary read at the snap is still S Troy Polamalu, who has our career picks against the Bengals. A new emphasis on getting the ball downfield was evident last week, A.J. Green lit up the Bears' secondary for 162 yards. When Green isn't open, Dalton has to punish the Steelers or leaving Mohamed Sanu and TEs Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham singled up. He threw to picks last week forcing the ball to Green, and the Steelers aren't shy about their intent to stop the run first, meaning Dalton will have some chances if he picks his spots. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was sacked five times last week when it was difficult to make out the pocket on almost every pass attempt because of a flood of pressure. Quick passes and extra-receiver sets could be in order, especially with TE Heath Miller (knee) unlikely to play again and no semblance of a running game.

*Matchup to watch - Steelers CB Ike Taylor vs. Bengals WR A.J. Green. Taylor will follow Green wherever he lines up. For the most part, Taylor has done a good job covering him the past two seasons, including holding him to one catch in the last meeting in Cincinnati.

*Player spotlight - Steelers Cs Kelvin Beachum and Fernando Velasco: If six days was enough to prep Velasco to start a division game with the NFL's top pass-rushing defensive tackle as opposition, Velasco gets the nod. He started for the Titans last season, and Pittsburgh prefers to use Beachum as an extra tight end in power formations.

*Fast facts: The Steelers have won 10 of the past 11 meetings in Cincinnati. ... The Bengals averaged 1.8 yards rushing on first down last week.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Cincinnati showed a lack of discipline and let a victory slip away at Chicago last week. The Bengals don't cough up the lead or the ball this time.

*Our pick: Bengals 23-13
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