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Fearless Prediction: Bengals (6-2) at Steelers (6-2)

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Game Snapshot

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
SURFACE: Grass
TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms)
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Bengals can't fear the Steelers' top-ranked run defense. RB Cedric Benson will get plenty of early carries as Cincinnati attempts to set up play-action and take some of the aggressiveness out of Pittsburgh's pass rush. Right behind Pittsburgh's run defense is the Bengals' (83.9 yards per game), and Cincinnati will play plenty of its base 4-3 defense after featuring more nickel looks with big leads the past two games. If Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has help from the ground game and time in the pocket, he should pick apart a Bengals secondary giving up 241.8 yards per game. Need to know: The Bengals are 26-1 under coach Marvin Lewis when having a rusher with 25-plus carries. ... The Steelers are 4-0 at home and have a 10-game winning streak at Heinz Field, including playoffs.

Personnel News

Bengals:
  • SS Roy Williams did not practice Thursday due to his forearm injury. He is doubtful for Sunday's game at Pittsburgh which would make him inactive for five of the last six games.
  • LB Keith Rivers did not practice on Thursday as he tries to recover from a calf injury. It looks like he will be unable to go and that Brandon Johnson will get the start.
  • OG Evan Mathis did not practice on Thursday due to an ankle injury. He is doubtful for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh which means that Nate Livings will get the start.
  • FB Jeremi Johnson had limited practice due to a chest injury after not practicing on Wednesday. He should be able to play on Sunday.
  • RB Cedric Benson had full participation in practice after getting the veterans rest on Wednesday.
Steelers:
  • RB Willie Parker said plans are to have him take every third series Sunday vs. Cincinnati. Parker has only eight carries in the past three games after Rashard Mendenhall took over as the starting halfback.
  • LB Lawrence Timmons went through a second straight practice Thursday and should start Sunday. He missed Monday's game with a sprained ankle, an injury suffered Oct. 25.
  • DE Travis Kirschke missed practice again on Thursday and likely will miss his second straight game with a torn calf muscle.
  • RB Mewelde Moore, used primarily as the Steelers' third-down back, also has been used at running back late in games as the Steelers turn to him for ball security with the lead. He has done fill that role in three straight games.
  • LB LaMarr Woodley, who has two fumble returns for touchdowns in his three seasons, needs one more to tie for the Steelers' career record.

Inside the Camps

Bengals: It seems more than a matter of not if but when Maurice Purify is going to get called up from the Bengals' practice squad. Once that happens, it then becomes a matter of if he gets the call over Jerome Simpson for the fourth receiver spot. If Purify is called up to the 53-man roster for Sunday's game against the Steelers, it will probably be before Saturday, when the team leaves for Pittsburgh. "It's going to feel great (whenever I get the call)," Purify said. "I've been waiting for it for two years. I think I was game ready since Week 1 or Week 2. It's about time I get a chance, if I get the chance. I'm still in a situation that a lot of people want to be in." During his year and a half with the Bengals, Purify has been on the practice squad the entire time. He made an impact during training camp when he got the better of Roy Williams during the nutcracker drill the first weekend. It was also during camp that Purify worked on honing running his routes and getting out of breaks better. Simpson has more athleticism, but Purify is a big, physical receiver who would also be an asset on special teams and loves to block. "I see myself as more of a possession receiver who likes to do the dirty stuff, the stuff that the other receivers don't want to do," Purify said. While quarterback Carson Palmer continues to give his support for Purify, the final call will be up to coach Marvin Lewis and offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski. But Palmer did make a good case for why Purify deserves the chance. "Everybody takes their own time or their own process to get to where they need to get on the field and he's found a way to do it faster and done a better job," Palmer said of Purify. "Not that Jerome can't do it. Jerome will be out there at some point. But this might be something that makes him realize I had my opportunity and I didn't take advantage of it. They gave it to him so I better be ready for my opportunity and something that pushes him more." Steelers: It goes without saying what Pittsburgh hopes to do when its defense faces Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson and the Cincinnati Bengals' balanced offense on Sunday. The Steelers' primary goal will be to stop the run. "It's what we do," nose tackle Casey Hampton said. The Steelers have done it for so long it's almost taken for granted that they will continue to do it. They rank No. 1 against the run this season after barely getting nudged out for No. 1 last season. In the four seasons previous to that they finished third three times and first once in the NFL against the run. The Steelers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in the past 30 games, including postseason, dating to the end of the 2007 season. "Part of our defense is to keep the offense from dominating the game on the ground," said Dick LeBeau, their ageless defensive coordinator. "When it's a 50-50 situation, we're going to try to keep them from running the ball." Benson is the NFL's No. 2 rusher with 837 yards, but stopping him would be nothing new for the Steelers. They already slowed down the NFL's top rusher, Chris Johnson (held to 57 yards in the opener), and last year's rushing champ, Adrian Peterson (69 yards on Oct. 25). Benson did manage the most on the ground against them this season, 76 yards in the third game. "If you're one-dimensional, if you can't run the ball and all you can do is pass, you can get after people a lot better than you can if they're doing both," Hampton said. "No matter who we're playing it's always stop the run first unless they have zero running game." PREDICTION: Steelers 27-20

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