The Steelers will take on the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, a rematch of the Week 3 game the Bengals won, 24-10, at Heinz Field.
Coach Mike Tomlin stressed the importance of Sunday's game in his weekly press conference, taking a straight up approach about its significance.
"This is a big week for us," said Tomlin. "I think that's one of the approaches that we're going to take this week. We're not going to play it cool and pretend like it's not or downplay it. This is significant AFC North football for us."
In Cincinnati, the feeling is the same. Bengals Coach Zac Taylor also knows how important AFC North games are, especially in a tightly contested division with the Ravens (7-3) leading, followed by the Bengals (6-4), Steelers (5-4-1) and Browns (6-5).
"We know this is going to be a dogfight on Sunday," said Taylor. "What happened the last time we played them has no bearing on this game whatsoever. Pittsburgh is a tremendous team."
The Bengals talked about several Steelers players, including Cameron Heyward, and T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Diontae Johnson, three players who were inactive for the Week 3 matchup.
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Coach Zac Taylor on linebacker T.J. Watt and defensive tackle Cameron Heyward:
"I know T.J. Watt's always a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. When he's in the game it changes a lot of things. They've always been strong up front as long as I've been here. People always talked about him and Bud Dupree and they are tremendous players.
"But Cam Heyward, No. 97, he wrecks games. It's not often you say that about defensive tackles. They can move him around to so many different positions. He has such a knowledge of the defense, a knowledge of his matchups. He is always a guy you have to pay attention to and be dialed in on because he will wreck a game in a heartbeat.
"We have a lot of respect for all of their guys on defense. They have had a solid defense for a long time."
Quarterback Joe Burrow on Heyward:
"He is what makes it tough to run the ball against them inside. He has been one of the best players in the league for a long time and he is tough to block, that is why he is still around."
Taylor on linebacker Alex Highsmith:
"You can't undersell Highsmith. He has done a great job here in his second year. He started to come on at the end of last year. I thought he started the year out really strong when we played them in that third game. He just continues to get better and better.
"There is nobody that allows you to relax, (you can't say) we have this one under control, we will focus on these other two guys. They have a lot of other interior guys that are coming along. There is a reason why they had a sack for however many games they had, and they continue to jump back on that train. They do that. They put pressure on the quarterback. They hit him. They have really savvy guys behind them that understand we're going to get a rush whether it's four or pressure and here is how we can play the coverages behind it. They always had a strong defense, and it will require our best on Sunday."
Taylor on receiver Diontae Johnson:
"He's a dynamic receiver. He's explosive. He's got great speed. He's got really good run after the catch. They've always got a good collection of weapons they can utilize. With him, he is coming on strong. He is a tremendous player, and we have to be fully aware of him."
Taylor on Sunday's Steelers-Bengals game:
"We know this is going to be a dogfight on Sunday. What happened the last time we played them has no bearing on this game whatsoever. Pittsburgh is a tremendous team. They know what it's like to be in a position in late November, December and how important these games are. Every divisional game matters. We're going to get their best shot and they're going to get ours."
The Steelers prepare for the Week 12 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals