Although the Bengals were eliminated from the postseason, they still have a chance to disrupt the playoff path of an AFC North rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengals and Steelers square off in Week 17 on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.
Sunday is a big day for both teams. The Steelers must win and get help to clinch the AFC North with a win from the Cleveland Browns over the Baltimore Ravens. Or they can clinch the No. 6 seed with a win and a tie by the Colts and Titans. For the Bengals, it's an opportunity to close the 2018 campaign on a high note and springboard into next season.
Here are the three things to watch:
1. Limit The Big Play - With or without Pro Bowl running back James Conner, the Steelers are a dynamic team that can move the ball with ease. The most impressive way is through the air thanks to wide receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Brown, a 2019 Pro Bowl selection, leads the Steelers with 15 touchdown receptions. His 104 catches and 1,297 yards are just behind Smith-Schuster's team-best 106 receptions for 1,389 yards. Brown sat out all week of practice and is listed questionable for Sunday's game.
The Steelers' other offensive weapons are just as potent with big play ability. Tight end Vance McDonald had a 49 yard reception last week against the Saints and rookie wide receiver James Washington averages 11.8 yards per reception.
2. Who Will Be The Next Tyler Boyd – The Andy Dalton to Tyler Boyd game-winning touchdown at Baltimore last year catapulted Boyd into a huge 2018. Boyd jumped from 32 receptions for 225 yards in year two to a spectacular season in 2018 with 76 catches for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns.
Boyd will not play week, but there are plenty of options offensively who could step up. Tight end C.J. Uzomah caught 4-of-5 targets for 49 yards and a touchdown last week against the Browns, while receivers John Ross (touchdown reception) and Cody Core (two receptions, two-point conversion) also capitalized on their chances.
With nothing to lose, don't be surprised if the Bengals mix up its offensive looks against the Steelers defense that ranks ninth in the NFL allowing 335.9 yards per game.
3. Sack Big Ben – In the first meeting between the two teams at Paul Brown Stadium, one stat that stood out was the Bengals did not record a sack against the Steelers. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dropped back 46 times and not once was knocked down in the week 6 matchup.
The Bengals' defense has failed only four times this season to register a sack, which all ended up in defeat. When Cincinnati's defense is at its best, the unit generates consistent pressure on the quarterback. Out of the team's 33 sacks on the season, 61 percent of them have occurred in the Bengals' six victories.
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. Eastern.
Television: The game will air on CBS. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Ch. 7) in Dayton and on WKYT-TV (Ch. 27) in Lexington. Broadcasters are Kevin Harlan (play-byplay), Rich Gannon (analyst) and Steve Tasker (sideline 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).