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Steelers December Preview

After a month of talking about “must-win” games, the Steelers actually face one this Sunday when they travel to Cincinnati to take on the first-place Bengals.

Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
December 7, 2014 1 p.m., CBS
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
Steelers (7-5, tied for second place in AFC North)
Bengals (8-3-1, first place in AFC North)

What’s on the Line: After Cincinnati was the lone AFC North team to win in Week 13, a 14-13 decision against the lowly Buccaneers, this game kicks off an important final month to the season for Pittsburgh. In a three-way tie for second in the division heading into Cincinnati, Pittsburgh needs a win to keep not just its division title hopes alive, but also postseason hopes via a Wild Card. With the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens both playing non-division games, the Steelers are in prime position to gain some ground. The AFC playoff picture is wide open, and every game from this point is crucial. For Cincinnati, a win here would expand its lead, and put the Bengals in the driver seat for a division crown.

Key Player: Cincinnati WR A.J. Green. Green has the deep-threat ability that has plagued the Pittsburgh defense all season long. Lining up against Pittsburgh cornerback Ike Taylor in this game could be the difference.

Key Stat: The Bengals were the first Ohio-based team to beat Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (2009)

Steelers at Atlanta Falcons
December 14, 2014 1 p.m., CBS

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia

What’s on the Line: The Steelers need to pick up a win in Atlanta to keep pace in a tight AFC North race. For the Falcons, they are still very much alive in an NFC South division that has seen better days.Steelers Troy Polamalu

Key Player: Pittsburgh secondary. The Falcons have a receiving duo in Julio Jones and Roddy White that can cause havoc for any defense. The inconsistency of Troy Polamalu and company will be tested, and need to accommodate accordingly to the skill set of Jones and White.

Key Stat: Last three meetings between these two teams have gone to overtime, with each team winning one and the third ending in a tie.

Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs
December 21, 2014 1 p.m., CBS
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

What’s on the Line: The Steelers should be thinking postseason football at this point. Whether they are in the hunt for the division or not, an AFC win will be imperative if Pittsburgh wishes to continue its season.Steelers Heath Miller

Key Player: Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller. With the attention that the Chiefs will give Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, Miller should be able to find ways to get involved in the passing game.

Key Stat: In four games against Kansas City, Roethlisberger has an average passer rating of 106.6

Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
December 28, 2014 1 p.m., CBS
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

What’s on the Line: For both teams this could be a must win for a division championship and a home playoff game or a must win for a wild card berth. If neither team is playing for any postseason bids, it is always a pleasure making sure your division rival doesn’t get a ticket to the postseasoSteelers Ben Roethlisbergern.

Key Player: Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. If the Steelers want to finish out the season with a win and a berth in the postseason, it will be up to Roethlisberger to guide his team into January football. 

Key Stat: Since 2001, Pittsburgh is 19-8 against Cincinnati, and hasn’t scored less than 10 points in a game.

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