Well, you can guarantee the NFL schedule makers did not anticipate the status of these two teams when they marked this game down for Monday Night Football. Both the Bengals and the Steelers are struggling to stay afloat coming into this divisional rivalry game. Actually, that’s an understatement because both teams are actually well on their way to drowning with them both being under the water at 0-3.
Part of the reason for the Steelers awful start is having lost their starting QB for the year back in week 2 with Ben Roethlisberger on IR with a shoulder injury. Instead they have last year’s 3rd round pick Mason Rudolph at the helm, he went 14 of 27 for 174 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception in his starting debut last week. Pittsburgh is going to need a lot more out of him than that going forward if they are going to be turning this season around.
That all starts right here against the Bengals on MNF, Rudolph’s first time in the nationally televised spotlight. He has help though, because James Conner has proven to be a pretty dang good NFL running back. Except last week, Conner did not do well backing up his first year signal caller with just a 3.3 yard per carry average so the Steelers will definitely be looking to get more out of him tonight.
As for the Bengals, they are battling their own injury to a star player with all-world WR AJ Green still sidelined from his injury this off-season. Cincy has sputtered out the gates without Green this season, one that is most likely QB Andy Dalton’s last leading them unless he starts to play out of his mind the rest of the way. The red rifle is on his last bullets in a Bengals uniform if not, so he is probably the player most in need of a great game tonight on MNF.
The Bengals do have a pretty good running back themselves in Joe Mixon, though he has not performed as well so far this year with their offense struggling to get much going as of yet. That’s to be expected though when everyone knows going in that the biggest weapon the Bengals have is Mixon, shut him down and likely you shut down the Bengals.
We will see how this one unfolds, sometimes the best games are the ones that feature two struggling teams with nothing left to lose. Chat here with your fellow Raiders fans while these two AFC North teams duke it out.