With an 11-game stretch awaiting the Cincinnati Bengals on the other side of the bye week, the team can afford very few slip ups the rest of the way.
The playoff picture in the AFC is starting to take shape, and the Bengals are currently on the outside and looking in at 2-3. The win over the Bills last week was promising, but the Bengals will have to prove they can maintain the same level of play throughout the season.
More specifically, the following three games pose the biggest threats to Cincinnati during the rest of the season.
3. Denver Broncos (Nov. 19th)
The Denver Broncos defense poses a huge threat for the Bengals’ weaker offensive line. Von Miller is obviously a huge threat coming off the edge, and the Bengals’ tackles will need to be prepared to face off against the scheme of former Bengals coach Vance Joseph.
However, the Bengals’ defense can keep the team in this contest by pressuring Trevor Siemian into bad decisions. What this game may come down to is the Bengals’ secondary, and their ability to cover Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and company.
2. Minnesota Vikings (Dec. 17th)
On December 17th, the Bengals will take on another former coach in Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who has Minnesota looking strong through six weeks as they lead the NFC North. These teams haven’t met in the regular season since 2013 when the Bengals won, 42-14.
The game in 2017 will come down to the Bengals’ offense and if they can move the ball against the stout Vikings defense that Zimmer has built. If the offense can get rolling, the Bengals could pull out a victory at the other US Bank Arena in Minnesota.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (Oct 22nd and Dec. 4th)
Everyone’s least favorite rivalry revitalizes itself this season as the Steelers started their season with a bit of a stumble. The Browns only lost to Pittsburgh by three, but the Steelers bounced back on Sunday taking down the previously undefeated Chiefs in Kansas City.
These are really different extremes and which Pittsburgh shows up will determine how well the Bengals will have to play to beat the Steelers. Will it be the Steelers team that beat the Chiefs? Or the Steelers team that lost to the Bears and Jaguars? The game in Cincinnati on December 4th will be the game that could very well determine the AFC North, and that will be a Monday Night Football matchup.
The Bengals have seemingly gotten over some of their big game woes, but that will certainly be part of the storyline as the Steelers roll into town in early December as well as when the Bengals face the Steelers in Pittsburgh this week.