The Bengals have one of the better defenses in the NFL but what is keeping them from being the best defense is their secondary. Their pass defense is in no way in bad as shape as the pass defense of a team like the Patriots, in fact it's the No. 11 pass defense in the league, but compared to their run defense, it's the weaker of the two.
Losing Leon Hall was a big hit but losing Nate Clements for the week would be even bigger. Clements didn't practice on Wednesday or Friday due to a hamstring injury and he's a game-time decision. If the coaches decide that he can't go, Adam Jones and Kelly Jennings would be the team's starting cornerbacks with likely Chris Crocker sliding into the nickel position while Gibril Wilson, or maybe even Taylor Mays, plays safety.
If that happens, the Steelers, especially Ben Roethlisberger will be salivating at the thought of picking apart a weak secondary. Instead of letting him sit in the pocket and find open receivers, though, the Bengals front seven needs to put constant pressure on Roethlisberger to limit the damage he could do to the secondary.
The Steelers have made, or are in the process of making, the transition from a power running team to a passing team. After all, the NFL is a passing league. Roethlisberger is having a good season and he's showcasing the skills that have made him successful in the NFL -- the ability to evade pressure in the pocket and complete tough passes being one of his best abilities.
The last time the Bengals played the Steelers, they sacked Roethlisberger five times and that was without the team's best pass rusher, Carlos Dunlap. They'll be without Dunlap again but this time they're going to have to do more to rush Big Ben.
Not only will they need to get into the backfield quickly, but they'll need to be in control of themselves. Roethlisberger has an uncanny ability to side step defensive linemen and blitzing linebackers and find open space to sit and wait for a receiver to get open. The Bengals front seven needs to do what they can to make sure they don't over pursue or just flat out miss Roethlisberger in order to stop him from tearing up a banged up secondary.
If the Bengals can constantly pressure Roethlisberger and sack him just as many times, if not more, than they did in Week 10, they'll have a good chance to win on Sunday.