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'Monday Night Football': Six things to watch

The AFC North is a combined 1-5 to start the season, but Monday night's showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals will help one team right the ship.

On paper, the Bengals (0-1) own the division's most talented roster, but Cincy was sloppy down the stretch in a season-opening loss to the Chicago Bears.

Pittsburgh (0-1) comes into the game filled with questions after Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers laid a massive Black and Gold egg at home in Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans.

Long story short: Something's gotta give. Here are six keys to Monday's affair:

  1. The Bengals drafted running back Giovani Bernard to add a dynamic element to their ground game, but the rookie saw just four carries against the Bears. My biggest concern with Cincinnati's offense is no different than a year ago: If A.J. Green isn't on fire, the operation stalls. Green had more yardage than all other Bengals pass-catchers combined against Chicago.
  1. One ray of hope for Cincy's pass game: Tyler Eifert. The rookie tight end pulled down five catches for 47 yards in his NFL debut. With Cincy using two or more tight ends almost 70 percent of the time, Eifert and Jermaine Gresham are in for a busy night.
  1. With All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey out for the year with a shattered knee, the Steelers went out and signed free agent Fernando Velasco. It's an upgrade over last week's fill-in, Kelvin Beachum, but Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins could be in for a feast.
  1. "Where are the playmakers?" Dave Dameshek asked Monday of the Steelers' offense. One possibility: Markus Wheaton. The rookie receiver played just seven snaps in Week 1, with Big Ben targeting veteran Emmanuel Sanders a team-high 12 times. We'd love to see Pittsburgh use Wheaton more against the Bengals' secondary.
  1. One Steelers rookie who will see a ton of time: pass rusher Jarvis Jones. After recording three tackles for loss in 26 snaps against Tennessee, Pittsburgh's first-round draft pick will make his first start Monday at outside linebacker over the inconsistent Jason Worilds.
  1. Just as Jones begins his career with the Steelers, it will be a culture shock seeing James Harrison chase down Big Ben. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Harrison will be nothing more than a "nameless, gray" face come kickoff. The Steelers great was equally unsentimental, telling ESPN's Jon Gruden: "I'm not going to be thinking about them. I'm going to be thinking about what I've got to do to beat them."

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