It’s win-and-in for the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend as they visit a familiar foe in Pittsburgh. The Bengals (8-6) currently rank one game ahead of the Steelers (7-7) and two games ahead of the Dolphins (6-8). The Bengals are looking to reach the postseason for the fourth time in eleven seasons under head coach Marvin Lewis.
Bloomberg Sports has conducted research on the offensive and defensive lines of each team in the NFL this season. According to the data set, the Bengals join the Broncos as the only teams in the NFL that appear in the top 5 of both stats: Total Offensive Line Hits and Total Defensive Hits through week 15.
The Bengals are tied with the NFC-West leading San Francisco 49ers in having allowed the fewest hits on their quarterback. The Bengals are also ranked fifth in hits on the opposing quarterback through week 15 according to the Bloomberg Sports Pocket Watch Analytics.
The Bengals face a Steelers club that is currently ranked twenty-first in Total Offensive Line Hits and twenty-ninth in Total Defensive Hits. In fact, the Steelers have allowed more hits on their own quarterback than they have had on the opposing quarterback. That may explain the bumps and bruises for Big Ben Roethlisberger this season.
If this game is determined in the trenches, the advantage overwhelmingly sides with the Bengals. Fortunately for Steelers fans, this game will be played in Heinz Field, where the Bengals have lost four of their last five games. Whether Big Ben can sustain the hard hits from the Bengals defense could very well be the key factor in the game.