This isn’t even about their records. The Bengals are worse than their 2-10-1 record, as both wins came when they had a rising star, Joe Burrow, at quarterback. More importantly, they always play worse against the Steelers, who are 11-2 and writhing from two straight losses.
Furthermore, as I wrote earlier, Cincinnati may be forced to start Ryan Finley if Brandon Allen can’t play. Finley normally gets sacked at an astonishing rate, and against Pittsburgh’s ferocious defensive line, it has the makings of a nightmare. The mismatch between the Steelers’ d-line and the Bengals’ o-line along with the overall mess and lack of direction in Cincinnati would make this much more of an upset than your normal bottom feeder vs. contender scenario.
It’s not surprising, then, that the Steelers are favored to win by double digits.
Meanwhile, Bengals coach Zac Taylor looked as dejected as he ever has after the ugliest loss of his career (and he’s had a lot of ugly losses), a 30-7 disaster against Andy Dalton and the Dallas Cowboys. He knows his seat has gotten exponentially hotter ever since Burrow went down, thanks in part to the poor coaching of Jim Turner and keeping guard Michael Jordan in the lineup too long.
Just imagine, though, that somehow Taylor pulls off the upset. Bengals fans are so desperate for a glimmer of hope that a win over the Steelers might help change the narrative surrounding Taylor the way the decisive victory over the Tennessee Titans did.
The Bengals’ front office is probably not excited about firing Taylor after two years and, most importantly, having to pay a head coach who they no longer employee. We talked about the financial implications and whether or not Mike Brown would be willing to accept that sunk cost in the video below.
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That is to say that, Mike Brown and Katie Blackburn may just use a Steelers victory to convince themselves and fans that Taylor deserves another year with Burrow. After all, they’ll try to convince us, Burrow thrived under Taylor’s “guidance” (of course, it might be more appropriate to say that the quarterback survived the team’s subsidence).
In short, while we all want to see the Bengals beat the Steelers no matter the circumstance, just know that an upset might mean fans are stuck with the losingest coach in franchise history a bit longer.