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Cincy Jungle interview with Keystone Sports Beat previewing Bengals vs Steelers

Cincy Jungle's Anthony Cosenza joined a local Pennsylvania sports radio program, "Keystone Sports Beat" on Friday to talk about the big Week 8 matchup between the Bengals and the Steelers. Here is the audio and partial transcript.

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The weekend is upon us and a critical matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers is oh so close. Brian Tripp, the host of Keystone Sports Beat, a radio program that covers most of the local Pennsylvania sports, approached me to appear on the program to talk about the critical AFC North showdown.

Below is the audio and partial transcript of my interview with Brian. Give it a listen and enjoy. A big thanks to Brian and his crew for their hospitality!

BT: Look, everyone in Cincinnati is excited about the Bengals. They have a chance to get to 7-0 for the first time in franchise history, the offense has been dynamic, while the defense has been off and on this year. Going into the year, you have a picture in your mind probably of what the Bengals would look like--how close are they to that and is this a case of (Andy) Dalton and all of his playmakers reaching their full potential?

AC: Personally speaking, they've exceeded my expectations. I actually thought the first part of the schedule was going to be really tough for them, given some of the hype around the Seahawks, Bills and Chiefs. The Bengals kind of mowed through all of those teams, but they have been a little bit down. The beginning of the schedule was maybe a little easier than everyone thought. I think each one of those teams they've been are .500 or below at this point. But, they have exceeded my expectations, especially at quarterback. I knew Dalton would be improved with the return of Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert, I didn't know he would be playing this outstanding. He just won the AFC Player of the Month award, and he's playing really well. He's distributing the ball to a lot of different players and things clicking well right now.

BT: What has allowed Dalton to play so well? Is it just that he has so many weapons around him? But, someone has to get those weapons the ball. What's been the difference?

AC: There has been a lot of talk this offseason about Dalton working with quarterback guru, Tom House, who a lot of big-name quarterbacks have worked with over offseasons. He worked with him throughout the summer before Training Camp and met with him over the bye week again, likely for a brush-up of some kind. You can see improved footwork and touch on deep calls, which has always been a knock on Dalton. It's kind of an interesting thing: people are quick to point out that Dalton has a weak arm for the deep throws, it's not really that as an issue. It's improper throws, improper from or the right touch when synchronizing with receivers. So, that seems to be in much better shape this year with the deep ball.

He's also getting outstanding protection from his offensive line. You can argue that it's one of, if not the best offensive line in the league, man-for-man. He's getting a ton of time, they've also developed a system where he gets the ball out fast to avoid pressure and sacks. And you're seeing get to the point where the offense has looked about as good as it has since Andy Dalton got there.

BT: But, you know the questions are still coming. The Bengals have lost three straight against the Steelers, Dalton is 2-6 in his career against Pittsburgh and those generally are big games where his has struggled. So, there is still a lot to prove for Dalton.

AC: Absolutely. And, there are still doubters for prime time and playoff games. If the Bengals are fortunate enough to make the playoffs, as it looks like they will because of their start, all of those questions still remain and he needs to slay some demons. It starts this Sunday against the Steelers. Not an easy place to play. It sounds like the weather might be a little sketchy and that makes it tough to throw the ball and if they get into scoring position, kicking field goals. Heinz Field is kind of notorious for having a tough turf situation, so this is a big game for them. Pittsburgh has been a little up-and-down this year, but it sounds like they are getting their stud quarterback back. I think the Bengals would prefer that if they were to beat Pittsburgh, they would want to do so with the Steelers having their starting quarterback to really continue to boost their own resume.