Originally posted on Three-Way Chili  |  Last updated 12/20/12
If we were doing the “confidence points” thing that is popular in college bowl pools – from 1-10 with 10 being the most confident I could possibly be about the Bengals beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh this Sunday … I would go with a 3.5. I don’t think it’s some insurmountable challenge – the 2012 Steelers are just not very good – but they’ll probably use their Jedi mind tricks over the Bengals and beat them as usual. However, the Bengals have some things going for them – like one of the best defensive lines in the NFL (more on that later) – and a win wouldn’t completely shock me. So, I’m going with a 3.5 for my confidence points for now. Interestingly, that is also the point spread of this game in which Cincinnati can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win. The spread actually opened at 4.5 points in favor of Pittsburgh, but the money is going the Bengals’ way. Intriguing, indeed. Hopefully my instinct is off on this one because it would not only be nice to make the playoffs for the third time in four years, it would be sweet to do it at Heinz Field in front of the Pittsburgh faithful. About That D-Line How good is the Bengals’ defensive front? Well, this pretty much sums it up: From everything I’ve gathers, the coaches think very highly of second-round pick Devon Still and third-rounder Brandon Thompson – both defensive tackles – but they have been inactive the last several weeks because there simply isn’t room for them in the rotation right now. The Bengals carry nine defensive linemen and there is only space for seven to suit up on game days. So, you have a second-round pick and a third-round pick, both who the coaches like, who can't even see the field because of the quality depth. The Magnificent Seven includes third-year DT Geno Atkins – who is the second-best player on the entire team in my opinion, behind only wide receiver/freak A.J. Green. (Both former Georgia players as well, which is the case with half the Bengals’ roster. Alright, “only” six players on the active roster hail from UGA.) Atkins might be the best pass-rushing D-tackle in the NFL and has racked up 10.5 sacks this season. He made the Pro Bowl last year, will so again this year and is set for a huge payday this offseason. And the former fourth-round pick (what a steal) is a restricted free agent after this year, so I’m confident he’ll be back in Cincinnati. Fourth-year DE Michael Johnson, a former third-round pick, is having himself a career-year with 8.5 sacks. The rest of the D-line includes DT Domata Peko, DE Carlos Dunlap, DE Wallace Gilberry, DE Robert Geathers and DT Pat Sims. Gilberry is a fifth-year pro that the Bengals plucked off the waiver wire and he has five sacks for the season. After a slow start, Dunlap has played extremely well of late and has 4.5 sacks on the year. Peko is not a guy that is going to put up big stats – which can be said for a lot of good DT’s – but he’s been his usual steady self. Geathers is versatile enough to slide down to tackle on passing downs and the veteran has three sacks on the season. If there is a better D-line in the NFL from top-to-bottom, I’d love to see it. I’m talking about literally from 1-9. The defensive line is the clear strength of the Bengals’ entire team this season. The group is the biggest reason Cincinnati heads to Pittsburgh with an 8-6 record and a chance to taste the  postseason once again. By the way, if the Bengals win this Sunday and the Ravens lose to the Giants, the Bengals will host the Ravens for the AFC North championship on Dec. 30. I’ll admit I never thought the Bengals would be in this position this season. I thought they’d take a small step backward and finish 8-8. But it’s been fun being wrong. (Well, let’s hope I’m wrong; still a chance they could finish 8-8 of course.) Also, I’ll be the one in Pittsburgh with my Bengals’ face paint on, likely shirtless. Hell naw. It’s called the TV in the man cave and that’s exactly where I’ll be to watch this one. Who Freakin’ Dey!
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Michael Bennett calls out NFL stars for not speaking up on social matters

Nationals make astute move in acquiring Melancon

Son of former NFL player Antonio Armstrong charged with death of parents

U.S. Senator “appalled” by Bettman’s stance on concussions

Team USA’s Opening Ceremony uniforms look a little treasonous

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Lawyer who reps concussion lawsuit wants to speak with Bettman

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon

Texans GM 'disappointed' in DeAndre Hopkins

Can Andre Johnson end his regression in Tennessee?

Favre opens up about painkiller addiction during career

Miami women’s basketball coach criticizes Texas A&M following slideshow

Twin Cities preparing for influx of sex trafficking during Super Bowl LII

WATCH: Bautista bat flip will be available as NHL 17 celebration

Former USMNT, current MLS forward Davies battled cancer, in remission

The definitive guide to U.S. Men's Basketball at Rio 2016

Tony Romo training camp picture leads to fat jokes, concern

Matt Cullen’s family eats cereal out of the Stanley Cup

Texas A&M suspends coaches for sexist slideshow

10 most dangerous college football defenders in 2016

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker