Pittsburgh suffered its fourth defeat in five games and watched what was a commanding lead in the AFC North division disappear. New Orleans pushed the Steelers a half-game behind the 9-6 Ravens and took control of the Steelers’ playoff destiny out of Ben Roethlisberger’s hands.
Most preseason pundits gave the division to the Steelers, but there were a few that said the Ravens or Bengals could steal the title. They cited the number of close victories for the Steelers in 2017 and the historical statistic that teams who win the most one-score games in a season often do poorly the following year.
Even those writers thought they were wrong when a 20-16 victory over the Jaguars gave Pittsburgh a 7-2-1 record and a commanding three-game lead on Baltimore. But the Steelers’ failure to salvage more out of a difficult schedule period coincided with the arrival of Lamar Jackson and new life in Baltimore.
Now, the Steelers have to hope Jackson’s magic runs out in Baltimore if they are to make it to the postseason. Only a division title will do as the Steelers cannot beat the record of the wild card candidates.
Cincinnati had early title hopes, too. They were sitting pretty at 4-1 while Pittsburgh was 2-2-1. The wheels fell off early for the Bengals and injuries assured they would not rebound to be a threat for the division title.
Injuries and notes
Pittsburgh running back James Conner might suit up for this game and share rushing duties with Jaylen Samuels.
Tyler Boyd is listed as questionable but is unlikely to play. Cincinnati also lists five defensive players, including Vontaze Burfict (concussion) as questionable.
In most other cities, coaching a preseason title favorite and perennial playoff team and leading them into an 8-7-1 record and early postseason would lead to much more conjecture about your job status than Pittsburgh.
Local radio stations are fielding calls and a couple of sportswriters wonder if it is time to move on from Mike Tomlin, but the Hunts are known for stability. We would guess that Tomlin and Roethlisberger’s futures are entwined, and Big Ben already said he plans to return next season.
Marvin Lewis is expected to resign following the season, with Ohio outlets already filling the airwaves and social media feeds with potential candidates. Lewis’ legacy will be mixed, with playoff appearances but nary a postseason victory.
How to watch the Steelers-Bengals game
CBS Sports will send this game to local affiliates. You can watch the live stream feed for free on Fubo TV, thanks to their free trial offer.
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Who will win the Steelers-Bengals game?
Marvin Lewis was not a perfect coach, but his players always seemed to support him. They played a good game in Lewis’ last home appearance before falling to the Browns last week. They would love nothing more than to cement the Steelers’ doom in their coach’s last game as Bengals coach.
That should give us a great first half and make some Pittsburgh-area palms very sweaty. But eventually, talent wins out. Ben and the Steeler might get knocked out of the playoffs, but they won’t let anybody back in either.