High above the weight room in Paul Brown Stadium is a gigantic graphic with the phrase "It's About Us."
That phrase couldn't be more accurate as the Bengals zip into the second half of the season with momentum on their side. The rookies are starting to emerge as key contributors, veterans are becoming more comfortable in the system and the team's identity on both sides of the ball is taking shape.
There's a tough challenge ahead though as the Bengals face the last remaining unbeaten in the league, the 8-0 Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here are the three things to watch in Week 10 against the Steelers.
1. Pass Protection – The Steelers lead the NFL with 32 sacks and 114 pressures and have one of the top pass rushing groups in the league with T.J. Watt (seven sacks), Stephon Truitt (six sacks) and Bud Dupree (six sacks). The good news is the Bengals offense has done a much better job in pass protection allowing only three sacks the previous two games. One area that the Bengals can expose the Steelers is in the run game. In the past two weeks, the Steelers' once-stifling run defense has given up an average of 204.5 rushing yards.
On the other side of the ball, the Bengals will get defensive end Sam Hubbard back after he missed the previous three games with an injury. That will be a huge addition to a front seven in need of applying pressure to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has only been sacked 10 times in eight games.
2. Dynamic Playmakers – The recent success of the offense led by Joe Burrow has opened up eyes around the league about its potential. A large part of the success has come from the playmaking ability of the Bengals receivers. Wide receiver Tyler Boyd once again is enjoying a terrific season ranking ninth in the league with 54 receptions. His counterpart Tee Higgins has 33 for 488 yards and three touchdowns, all which rank second among rookie receivers.
The Steelers counter with their own dynamic group of pass catchers with JuJu Smith-Schuster (45 receptions, 439 yards), Chase Claypool (31 receptions, 444 yards) and Diontae Johnson (31 catches, 310 yards). One big reason for the evolution of the Steelers pass catchers is their running game has declined as the season has progressed. In Weeks 1-6, Pittsburgh averaged 136.8 rushing yards per game. Since Week 7, that has dropped to 62.7 rushing yards per game.
3. Bye Week Adjustments – Bengals linebacker Josh Bynes said this week that the bye week is a great time for self-evaluation and making adjustments. Opponents saw those adjustments last season after the Bengals bye.
Last year, head coach Zac Taylor reworked the offense to help get the running game going. The result was Joe Mixon rushing for the second-most yards in the league during the final eight weeks. The adjustments this time around could center on scheme again, or players taking advantage of their opportunity.
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. Eastern.
Television: The game will air on FOX-TV. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WXIX-TV (Ch. 19) in Cincinnati, WGRT-TV (Ch. 45) in Dayton, WDKY-TV (Ch. 56) in Lexington, and WTTE-TV (Ch. 28) in Columbus. Broadcasters are Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Jonathan Vilma (analyst) and Shannon Spake (reporter).
Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).