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MNF: Steelers vs Bengals Game Thread

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Monday Night Football, Week 15. Tonight the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Cincinnati Bengals.

The 11-2 Pittsburgh Steelers have suddenly fallen on hard times. After winning their first 11 games to start the season the Steelers have lost their last two, and they have not scored more than 19 points in a game in a month. Ben Roethlisberger was playing like the Ben of old earlier in the year, but now he’s just looking old. The Steelers have all but abandoned the running game lately, running for less than 70 yards in six of their last seven contests. In short, for a team that had a good chance to become just the second 16-0 team ever, the Steelers are looking like a team with a number of vulnerabilities. Perhaps the Cincinnati Bengals are just the tonic for a suddenly less than invincible Steelers team.

The 2-10-1 Cincinnati Bengals lost their star rookie quarterback Joe Burrow to injury a month ago, and with him went the Bengals’ chances for fielding a competitive team. With Burrow under center the Bengals scored 27 or more points in five of their first eight contests, and the Bengals offense under Burrow averaged 22.7 points per game. Since Burrow was injured the Bengals have scored less than 10 points in three out of four games and have averaged 10 points per game. You can’t win in the NFL with that level of offensive ineptitude. Now the Bengals offense is matched against a Steelers defense that is ranked 1st in the NFL in points allowed. The Bengals scored just 10 points against this Pittsburgh defense the first time these two teams met this year, and that was with Burrow under center. Without Burrow this Bengals offense against the Steelers defense looks on paper to be an impossible matchup for the Bengals. On the other hand, we saw just yesterday how the New York Jets, with the NFL’s worst offense, defeated the Los Angeles Rams, with the NFL’s best defense, so you just never know what might happen.

This game looks like a complete mismatch on paper. Monday Night Football used to be a showcase. This one looks like a massacre. We’ll see how it plays out. It’s the Steelers and the Bengals in an AFC North match on Monday Night Football.