1) Andy Dalton is off to an amazing start. But, deep in your bones do you fear he will once again ruin the season with a historically bad playoff performance?
Andy's playoff struggles have been overblown. In 2014 he was playing without Marvin Jones, AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, and a host of others. In 2011 he was a rookie on a team many thought wouldn't win three games. In 2012 we saw Jermaine Gresham drop seemingly every big throw he needed to catch, and the defense hasn't shown up for the most part every year. That being said, he needs to play at a higher level when the bright lights are on, and having Eifert back healthy should bring the Bengals their first playoff win since 1991.
2) Who is more to blame for the Bengals playoff struggles: Andy Dalton, Marvin Lewis or neither?
If someone is to blame it's definitely Marvin Lewis. His signature strength is defense, and that's been a huge failure in the post season. Being brutally honest, AJ Green hasn't taken the criticism he deserves either. He has vanished in many big games, not just the playoffs.
3) That said, this is an excellent football team. If they can stay healthy, how many wins are possible?
When this season started, I felt having Eifert and Jones back was really under reported in the media, and we are seeing what kind of an offense this is when they are together. This team can literally hit you from anywhere on the field, and defensively get back Vontaze Burfict possibly as soon as this Sunday against the Steelers. 13 wins is not out of the question, but I'm sticking to my pre season prediction of 12.
4) The game this Sunday almost has a playoff feel. Which team needs it more?
The Bengals currently sit as a 1.5 favorite on the road, and that can't sit well with a Steeler team that is already three games back in the loss column. Definitely a bigger game for Pittsburgh, as another loss all but eliminates them from winning the division. On the flip side, its a chance for the Bengals to step on the throat and end this race early.
5) Who do you see winning and how does it happen?
It will be a physical game for the running backs on both sides, and Le'Veon Bell should be playing with a chip on his shoulder after last year when Reggie Nelson ended his season early. That being said, this game will also see plenty of passing with Dalton and the probable return of Ben Roethlisberger.
I will take the Bengals +1.5, with a score somewhere in the 27-23 range. I don't think the Steelers will be able to cover Eifert, and I think he's the difference this week.
Kevin Albanese is an expert on the Bengals, Red Sox and KISS. He writes things sometimes.