The Steelers face off in a pivotal AFC North matchup versus the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday. The Bengals who currently are in the AFC playoffs need a win to keep their post season hopes alive. The Steelers on the other hand need a desperate win after dropping three straight.
If the Steelers want any potential chance of reaching the dance they unfortunately have to win the 3 remaining games. Huge stakes on the line yet again for both AFC North teams.
Will Kenny Pickett be returning?
With Mitch Trubisky benched and Mason Rudolph stepping in as the starter, there's hope for a spark in the struggling offense. Additionally, there's a slight chance of Kenny Pickett returning to play on Saturday, having participated in limited practice.
Having Pickett back would be crucial for the Steelers' chances of securing three consecutive wins. Amidst turmoil, especially concerning George Pickens, the offensive side needs a significant improvement. It has been subpar in every aspect, and it's time for a wake-up call.
I anticipate the Steelers getting back to what was effective in the past—running the ball. As I've emphasized numerous times, a strong running game opens up various opportunities. A couple of weeks ago, the Steelers efficiently ran the ball and made successful downfield throws versus the Bengals.
The key is to replicate a similar game plan used against the Bengals not too long ago. This time, the focus should be on dominating time of possession, converting third downs, and capitalizing in the red zone.
It becomes crucial, especially if Kenny Pickett is in play, for the pass protection to finally step up. Faulkner and Sullivan must work to get the QBs in rhythm, scheming up easy throws in the middle of the field and attempting successful screens. The focus should be on gradually allowing either Rudolph or Pickett to shake off rust, building confidence before becoming more aggressive. With a slim margin of error, the offense can't afford turnovers.
Against a well performing Cincinnati team, the Steelers need to leverage their players' strengths and introduce changes that cater to the QB. Facing a team for the second time, the offense which is already predictable, must throw the kitchen sink at them, preventing them from picking up tendencies. Unpredictability is key to success against Lou Anarumo's defense.