Joe Mixon faces Steelers,
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
Danny Sheridan’s line: Bengals by 2 1 ⁄2
Steelers’ keys to victory: Spread it out. Pittsburgh entered Week 5 with six players sitting on double-digit receptions. Cincinnati CB William Jackson did a quality job on WR Antonio Brown last year, but the Bengals secondary got ripped for 419 passing yards and three touchdowns by Falcons QB Matt Ryan in Week 4 and has been susceptible to intermediate routes over the middle. Attacking there with WR JuJu SmithSchuster will allow the Steelers to retain possession.
Bengals’ keys to victory: Establish the run. RB Joe Mixon returned in Week 5 with RB Giovani Bernard out, but a combination of him not being fully 100 percent and poor blocking led to 22 carries for 93 yards in the win, the numbers greatly skewed by a late 31-yard scamper. If Mixon can’t get rolling early, the Bengals leave themselves vulnerable to brief possessions and needing to become one dimensional offensively if the defense can’t contain Pittsburgh’s passing attack.
Matchup to watch: Steelers WR Antonio Brown vs. Bengals DB William Jackson. What else? If the Steelers can get Brown going against Jackson early, it demands a shift by the Cincinnati defense, resulting in a strong cast of Pittsburgh weapons elsewhere getting more room to work. Call it the domino point for both teams.
Who wins? These Bengals are oddly resilient and, to his credit, QB Andy Dalton looks to be playing the best ball of his career, even when escaping the pocket. If he remains composed, he’ll outgun the Steelers’ shaky secondary.