Do they have to play this game?
Just a month ago, these two teams faced each other in Joe Burrow’s second-to-last game before he suffered a season-ending torn ACL. The Steelers handled the Bengals with ease and continued their undefeated campaign, and both teams have each gone downhill to some degree. The Bengals are now Burrow-less, and the Steelers are no longer flawless, but the narrative of this matchup hasn’t changed a single bit.
With a Bengals loss on Monday, they will have gone five full seasons without beating the Steelers, and the race for the first-round bye week will stay tight because of it. Pittsburgh (11-2) have dropped two-straight games and have allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to take their rightful place atop of the AFC. So if there was any hope of Monday night being a trap game for the visiting team, they will surely be extra motivated.
But what if the seemingly impossible happens? Cincinnati (2-10-1) are on the verge of entering an offseason full of unknowns with their coaching staff on the brink of being purged and their quarterback set to rehab his way back to health. A win against their most hated adversaries would not only boost morale in a desolate locker room, it would surely make head coach Zac Taylor’s job security immensely stronger. This statement will surely cause the same reaction from all Bengals fans.
The Steelers are playing for playoff seeding, and the Bengals are playing for pride. This is exactly what ESPN had in mind when scheduling an inflexible Monday Night Football game in December. This stream has all the news, updates and analysis you could want for the Bengals’ Week 15 matchup against the Steelers.