By Hamish @Girvana Girvan
Remember the wildcard playoff that involved two teams from the AFC North last season ? Not only was it another choke by the Cincinnati Bengals it also had a number of verbal and physical altercations between themselves and their divisional rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cincinnati are the best “nearly” team in the NFL. They make the playoffs consistently but can never go the next step – led by Andy “the Red Rifle” Dalton, they have a mean defence and some real weapons in wide receiver AJ Green and running back Jeremy Hill. Head Coach Marvin Lewis seems to have no issues keeping his job season after season despite never taking them to that next level.
Meanwhile the Pittsburgh Steelers are what I would refer to as NFL Royalty. Two Superbowls in 2005 and 2008 (6 in total) and only 16 head coaches in their 83 years of existence, they are one of the NFL’s more stable franchises, and have a large and passionate fan base. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is under rated as a player – not overly dynamic however he knows how to win games and his wide receiver Antonio Brown is one of the highest rated players in terms of scoring ability in the NFL.
Both teams had wins in week one this season and this divisional match up will have a lot of tension around it due to the bad blood in last season’s playoff game. A helmet to helmet tackle gave the Steelers a penalty which led to a winning field goal. Both coaches will be wanting their teams to keep their emotions in check. The Bengals have a great habit of imploding.
Regardless if they do or don’t the Steelers should take this one.
Footnote. Last week’s column had a piece about Rex and Rob Ryan’s coaching duo at the Buffalo Bills. Two losses had already led to the firing of the Bills Offensive coordinator Greg Roman – seems like Rob Ryan still has time to drag the team down even further.