The pressure of the Real Season will hit both of these teams. One of those teams is raw, inexperienced and unfamiliar with how to win games with less than 100 percent health.
One of them is built specifically to play late into the season. They have loads of experience playing with new combinations of players at different positions.
But The Church asks, what happens when the experienced team is healthier than the inexperienced team?
We'll find out in about three hours.
- In a Make or Break game for the Cincinnati Bengals, the last opponent they want to be facing is a healthy Pittsburgh Steelers.
- Cincinnati has made an art form out of comebacks. If that throat is exposed, step on it. Keep stepping on it. You gotta unload a clip to beat this team.
- The Bengals secondary is more depleted than it's ever been. That isn't just reason to throw the ball, it's an invitation for this offense that's looking to see Hines Ward get 12,000 yards, get Wallace 1,000 yards and Brother Heath his 330th catch.
- It's possible to achieve apocalyptic-like pressure on Andy Dalton. That's the aim today.
Who Wants It?
The pressure's all on Brother Ben. He loves these moments. He knows he didn't play well last week - or in Week 10 when he had a chance to jam a dagger into the Bengals backs. It's time for him to kick it into leadership mode, because he makes everyone better. It's time to bring everything together.
Ben's showed his opposition deep passes, short passes, escapability, precision...it's time to bring all of that together in one manic, wildly unpredictable performance.
The rest of the AFC is watching this Steelers team, waiting to see whether they'll begin a late-season charge. Ben is built for football this time of year. This is his game to win or lose.
Song Of Choice
It's one of the most recognizable intros in rock history. Just the first few chords of AC/DC's Thunderstruck makes you feel like you mean business. It means it's time to get fired up. Put the talk aside and get ready for battle.
Unfortunately, it's such an obvious Stadium Song it's been overdone beyond it's highest and best usefulness. But imagine, if you will, the first time you heard it - hopefully it was before a game - and how your pulse increased, blood pressure rose a bit and you were ready to yell and scream.
That's The Church right now.
- May Brother Mike Wallace take his second consecutive 1,000-yard season with authority. He cannot be stopped today.
- May the return of Brother LaMarr truly end up being the most important plot-line of what will be a successful season. He and Brother James are born to disrupt offensive rhythm, inflict punishment and give the ball back to the offense.
- May Pittsburgh's offensive line remember it's not the sum of their parts, but the sum of their whole, that dictates success.
- May the focus of the team be on the Cincinnati Bengals for four quarters, 60 minutes, 70 plays and just this week. They can watch whatever afternoon game they want in a victorious locker room, but there isn't much to watch if they lose.