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Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers: Keys to Victory

Will Zac Taylor's beat Pittsburgh three times in a row?

The Bengals are hoping to sweep the Steelers for the first time since 2009 on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Here are our keys to victory ahead of the Week 12 matchup. 

Feed Joe Mixon 

It could be more difficult for Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase to wow the crowd Sunday with (as Mike Tomlin put it) teams zeroing in on Chase’s talents and abilities and taking the extra time to formulate a plan to stop the explosive rookie.

The Bengals will need to rely heavily on their rushing attack when playing a Steelers team that ranks 26th in the NFL against the run. They're giving up over 126 rushing yards per game.

Much like it did last week Mixon’s success (30 carries, 123 yards, two TD's) will lead the team to a win. He has impeccable vision and the ability to force defenses to respect the run game and keep them honest.

The Steelers had trouble containing Mixon in Week 3 during their first bout with the Bengals. He finished with 18 carries for 90 yards.

The Steelers defense is currently giving up 4.8 yards-per-carry (t-31st) to opposing running backs this season. Cincinnati has to take advantage if they want to sweep Pittsburgh. 

Be Ready for Watt

T.J. Watt was back at practice this week in a limited capacity on Wednesday and Thursday, but he was bumped up to full capacity on Friday. He's been dealing with knee and hip injuries, but will play on Sunday against the Bengals.

I don’t know about you, but this gives me 2015, Week 8 vibes when a then feared linebacker for the Bengals Vontaze Burfict made his season debut after injury in time to face the Steelers on the road. 

That was a game that featured great defense, with the Bengals ultimately winning 16-10.

Sunday will be a very different game when compared to the Bengals' 24-10 win over the Steelers in Week 3. I don’t expect the Bengals to be able to put up 24 points as easily as they did the first time they faced the Steelers. 

Watt will live up to his reputation and apply much more pressure on Joe Burrow than we saw in the first meeting. Burrow will need to be accurate, and he must get the ball out quickly with Watt chasing him around in Week 12.

Unleash the Two-Headed Monster

Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson have to make life tough on Ben Roethlisberger. They have over 15 sacks combined and if Pittsburgh’s offensive line plays like they did against the Chargers (three sacks, six QB hits), you can expect Hubbard and Hendrickson to have a holiday party in the backfield. Now, obviously for this to really work, the Bengals secondary must to do its job of shutting down Roethlisberger’s two favorite targets Diontae Johnson (13 targets, 101 yards, one touchdown in Week 11) and Chase Claypool (nine targets, 93 yards in Week 11). 

Big Ben is poised, and can get the ball out quickly when he senses trouble, and it will be game over if Johnson and Claypool are able to make explosive plays downfield.

Cincinnati has no room for error against a team who is looking to exact some revenge after an early season loss. You can guarantee Pittsburgh’s locker room has been talking all week about Tyler Boyd’s post game comments after the first game when he said they looked like they ‘gave up’ in the 24-10 loss. 

Expect the Steelers to use that as motivation heading into Sunday’s matchup at Paul Brown Stadium.

For more on this game, watch the video below.

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