Bengals and Steelers face must-win showdown

Who will deliver epic performances in this week's matchups?

Air & Ground matchup of Week 14

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS) -- The Bengals host the Steelers in a game that promises to have major playoff implications.

As the playoff picture stands now, the Bengals own the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the Steelers are just outside of the wild-card spots due to tiebreakers. With four games remaining in the season and standing three games behind the Bengals, a run at the division title is a "Dumb and Dumber"-type deal for the Steelers. For both teams, getting a win here is vital.

In Week 8, the Bengals rallied for 16-10 win in Pittsburgh to improve to 7-0 for the first time in their history. That game also marked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's return after missing four games with an injury.

Roethlisberger has won six of nine head-to-head meetings against Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. The Steelers are also 3-1 on the road against the Bengals in that span. Roethlisberger leads a Steelers offense that has been scoring in bunches lately. After finishing second in total offense a season ago, the Steelers are currently ranked No. 2 in the league this season.

Despite the loss of Le'Veon Bell to a torn MCL, the Steelers haven't missed a beat in the backfield with DeAngelo Williams filling the void. Williams has 697 yards and six touchdowns this season, and averaged 4.9 yards a carry. Bell had 556 yards and three touchdowns (4.9 yards-per-carry average) when he went down for the season.

While the Steelers sport the No. 2-rated offense (based on yardage), the Bengals have scored the fourth-most points in the NFL, behind the Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers. Dalton currently leads the NFL with a 107.4 passer rating; the last Bengals quarterback to lead the NFL in passer rating was Boomer Esiason in 1988 (the Bengals advanced to the Super Bowl that season).

One o'clock start times

Since 2011, the Bengals have played better in 1 p.m. ET starts than in primetime. The Bengals are 39-14-1 in 1 p.m. starts (.731 winning percentage, fourth-best in the NFL in that time span), and 4-9 in primetime starts (.308 winning percentage, tied for 25th in the NFL in that time span).



Great Moments in Air & Ground History

Steelers 49, Bengals 31 (Week 12, 1995) -- En route to an appearance in Super Bowl XXX, the Steelers played the Bengals in an AFC Central shootout. Steelers quarterback Neil O'Donnell threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Bam Morris rushed for 101 yards and three touchdowns. Kordell Stewart was at his "Slash" finest, rushing once for 15 yards and catching two passes for 86 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown play. Bengals quarterback Jeff Blake accounted for four touchdowns, three passing and one rushing. The Steelers finished the 1995 season 11-5, reached Super Bowl XXX, but were defeated by the Dallas Cowboys, 27-17.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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