RB Le'Veon Bell vs. RBs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard
Bell is coming off one of the best games of his career as he produced 254 yards from scrimmage last week against New Orleans, which was the second-highest output in a single game in team history. He ranks second in the league in rushing yards (1,046) and scrimmage yards (1,689). The Bengals use a running back by committee approach as rookie Jeremy Hill (144 carries for 683 yards) and Giovani Bernard (136 carries for 540 yards) have combined for 1,223 rushing yards. With elite wide receivers on each side of the ball in Antonio Brown and A.J. Green, each team will utilize the ground game to open up the passing game.
S Troy Polamalu vs. S Reggie Nelson
Although SS Troy Polamalu and FS Reggie Nelson play different positions in the secondary, each player has shown that they have the range and athleticism to make plays across the field. Despite missing two games this season due to injury, Polamalu ranks third on the team with 54 tackles (39 solo) and has two passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Nelson has been the most productive player in the Bengals defensive backfield as the eight-year pro ranks third on the team with 75 tackles (48 solo) and has added 1.5 sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defensed.
LB Lawrence Timmons vs. LB Emmanuel Lamur
Timmons and Lamur each lead his team in tackles and have proven to be the most consistent defensive players for their respective teams. Timmons ranks top-10 in the NFL in takedowns and has registered 107 tackles (75 solo), two sacks and one pass defensed. Lamur has done a little bit of everything for the Bengals and has 83 tackles (45 solo), two interceptions and seven passes defensed. In this pivotal AFC North battle, each team will need a strong performance from their defense to lead them to victory.