The Bengals host Pittsburgh on Sunday, and I had them all queued up for a big game. They’ve been averaging almost 4 TDs per week, while the Steelers have been struggling on defense. Then Sunday occurred.

Cincinnati hosted Miami, and it’s offense was underwhelming. It managed to pull out the game with a couple of defensive touchdowns, but they sputtered trying to move the ball all day. As well as he’s played, Andy Dalton sputtered, passing for only 248 yards, with one slop touchdown.

Pittsburgh’s defense, meanwhile, might be coming around. It was able to limit Matt Ryan and the high-flying Falcons to only 17 points. So while that defense has struggled this year, it’s now allowed only 2 TDs in its last six quarters of play. It’s also leading the league in sacks.

Which brings us to Sunday. The Steelers are at Cincinnati, and this is supposed to be the game where the torch is passed in the AFC North. Patrick Mahomes tossed 6 TDs against this defense, so you could logically figure Dalton might throw about 3-4.

But the way Pittsburgh has had the Bengals’ number over the years, I worry about their ability to get it done. The Steelers seem to know how to play them.

In the Andy Dalton era, these teams have played 15 times. They’ve gone 3-12 in those games, including losing the last six. They have scored more than 20 points in only one of those games – a 42-21 loss back in 2014.

Only twice has Andy Dalton completed more than 61 percent of his passes against Pittsburgh. In his 14 starts against them, he’s averaged 209 yards, with 17 TDs and 13 interceptions.

2011Pitt.L 17-24153017022
2011Cin.L 7-35112413510
2012Pitt.L 17-24142810511
2012Cin.W 13-10244127802
2013Pitt.W 20-10254528010
2013Cin.L 20-30254423020
2014Pitt.L 21-42212930220
2014Cin.L 17-27273824422
2015Cin.W 16-10233823112
2015Pitt.L 20-33355901
2015Cin.L 16-18----------
2016Cin.L 16-24315436610
2016Pitt.L 20-24162715701
2017Cin.L 14-29173014022
2017Pitt.L 20-23213623420

—Ian Allan