Steelers-Bengals Preview

The Cincinnati Bengals would love to clinch their second division title in three seasons against their hated rivals, especially after what transpired in 2014.

They're focused on keeping their poise after the bad blood that boiled over last month.

In a matchup of red-hot offenses, the Bengals can capture the crown Sunday by taking both meetings from the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time since 2009.

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"If you're going to be AFC North champs, it's probably fitting that you have to beat them to do that,'' Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said.

The Bengals had an opportunity to win their second straight division title in last season's finale. Pittsburgh, however, spoiled their night and won the North with a 27-17 home victory.

Now they're seeking an ounce of redemption with a chance to wrap things up at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati (10-2) is also tied with New England and Denver for the AFC's top record but owns the tiebreaker with an 8-1 conference mark.

"We know what we're playing for," quarterback Andy Dalton said. "There's a lot riding on these last four weeks.''

Cincinnati has dropped eight of the past 11 meetings since last sweeping this series six years ago. It also has lost 20 of the last 25 at home in the rivalry.

The Bengals, however, took a big step toward division supremacy Nov. 1 when they picked off Ben Roethlisberger twice in the fourth quarter and outscored the Steelers 10-0 in the final 2:57 to pull out a physical 16-10 victory at Heinz Field.

Things got ugly after star running back Le'Veon Bell suffered a season-ending knee injury on a tackle by Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict. The Steelers took exception when Burfict celebrated as Bell clutched his knee in pain.

"They said some things, we said some things,'' Pittsburgh linebacker Arthur Moats said. ''We don't like them. They don't like us.''

Roethlisberger insists he'll have to play better if the Steelers (7-5) hope to solidify their place in the crowded wild-card race. He completed 28 of 45 passes for 262 yards with one score and a season-high three interceptions in last month's defeat.

Since then, the three-time Pro Bowler has thrown for 383.3 yards per game with 10 touchdowns and four picks while Pittsburgh has averaged 35.8 points and 529.0 yards.

Antonio Brown has totaled 41 catches for 592 yards over that stretch. He had eight receptions for 118 yards and two scores while also returning a punt for a touchdown in last weekend's 45-10 victory over Indianapolis that marked the team's eighth straight December win.

''I just feel a chemistry growing between all of us on offense, from the line to the running backs, tight ends, receivers (and) quarterbacks,'' Roethlisberger said.

However, things aren't likely to come as easy against a Cincinnati defense that leads the NFL with 16.3 points allowed per game. The Bengals have limited opponents to an average of 79.0 rushing yards and 294.0 total yards over their last five games.

They've also been on a roll offensively, averaging 33.0 points and 376.7 total yards over the last three. Dalton has thrown for seven touchdowns and one interception in that stretch, though he's had two picks in each of his last two meetings with the Steelers.

A.J. Green had five catches for 128 yards and a touchdown in last week's 37-3 rout at Cleveland. He's been more than a handful for the Steelers, totaling 30 receptions for 424 yards and two scores in his last three meetings.

Pittsburgh had five sacks and a pair of interceptions against the Colts but has struggled overall against the pass, ranking 29th at 275.5 yards allowed per game. The Steelers have been much better against the run, ranking sixth while giving up 90.3 yards.

Cincinnati's Jeremy Hill has totaled 184 rushing yards in back-to-back blowout wins.

"Coach always says, `It's not how you take the field, it's how you get off,''' Pittsburgh defensive end Cam Heyward said. ''It doesn't matter how we get on there, we feel confident.''

Steelers tight end Heath Miller could return after sitting out last week with sore ribs, while cornerback William Gay still needs to get through the NFL's concussion protocol.

Cornerback Adam Jones isn't likely to play for the Bengals due to a foot injury.