AFC Wild Card
(6) Steelers at (3) Bengals
Steelers: Everybody was saying they wouldn’t make it and didn’t deserve to make it after losing to the Ravens the way they did, but I never counted them out. Entering week 17, the chance at making the playoffs was simple. The Steelers win, the Jets lose in Buffalo and the Steelers would be the sixth seed in the AFC and that’s exactly what happened. They took care of business against the Browns and the Jets hurt their chances by losing to the Bills. They’ve already lost Le’Veon Bell for the year with a torn MCL and DeAngelo Williams is now hurt after suffering an ankle injury last Sunday in Cleveland. Just like last season come playoff time, they are very thin at the running back position. Despite that, the Steelers have been in this position before. The AFC’s six seed and having to win three straight playoff games on the road. The road to title number seven will begin tomorrow night in a very familiar place.
Bengals: Here we are once again ladies and gentlemen. The Bengals are back in the playoffs for the fifth straight season and they’ve yet to win a playoff game since 1990. This season, I thought they made a lot of big time improvements. First, Andy Dalton became a much better leader. He was more vocal and animated on the sideline and before he broke his right thumb, he was having the best season of his career. 25 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions. Secondly, I love how the other weapons on the offense stepped it up. Tyler Eifert has become a star this year, you still have A.J. Green, Sanu and Jones have made big catches when necessary and they have a two-headed monster at running back and lastly, their defense is fast, athletic and physical and at their best when Geno Atkins is dominating the line of scrimmage. They’ll try once again to get the playoff monkey off their back.
Prediction: This is the most physical rivalry in all of football and these two teams HATE each other. Vontaze Burfict even said it himself that he hates the Steelers. I’m expecting a war between these two on Saturday night. The Bengals need to run the ball early on because that will help A.J. McCarron out a great deal. For the Steelers, doubling Tyler Eifert in the redzone and taking the run away will be very important. I like the Steelers in this one. Steelers 28 Bengals 20