Sunday, November 13, 2011
Steelers look to avoid dubious streak
By Jamison Hensley
Here's your game-day warm-up:
CINCINNATI -- The Steelers are looking to avoid their first 0-3 start in the AFC North when they play the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium today.
Pittsburgh lost its first two division games this year when it got swept by the Ravens. The Steelers have only had one three-game losing streak in the division since the AFC North began in 2002.
A majority of the ESPN NFL experts believe the Steelers will get their first division victory today. Six of the eight prognosticators have Pittsburgh (6-3) beating the Bengals (6-2), who have won five consecutive games (the longest current streak in the AFC).
ESPN's NFL experts also have the Ravens and Browns winning today. The Ravens (6-2) play at Seattle (2-6), and the Browns (3-5) are home against St. Louis (1-7).
Here are some story lines for today's games:
- BENGALS: The loss of Carlos Dunlap, who is questionable, would hurt the Bengals' pass rush. But the tight end position could be more of a concern. Backup Donald Lee is out and starter Jermaine Gresham is questionable. If Gresham is sidelined today, the Bengals would probably have to promote Chase Coffman from the practice squad since rookie Colin Cochart is the only healthy tight end on the roster.
- BROWNS: Let's keep on an eye on how the Browns use Josh Cribbs. He hinted on Wednesday that he would spend time in the backfield. A day later, he backed off playing running back or quarterback in the Wildcat. There is one certainty: Cribbs will start at wide receiver with Mohamed Massaquoi out.
- RAVENS: Statistics say it will be a rough day for Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. The Seahawks have given up 29 sacks, the second-most in the NFL. The Ravens have recorded 26 sacks, the second-most in the league.
- STEELERS: With LaMarr Woodley out, James Harrison has to carry the pass rush again. He had three sacks, six quarterback pressures and a forced fumble last Sunday. Harrison will often line up against Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who has allowed 1.5 sacks.