I'm sick of hearing all this concern over Pittsburgh's next opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals (or is it Bungals)?
What does Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin always say when his team is preparing to go into a hostile environment and take on an AFC North rival like it is this week with a trip to Paul Brown Stadium?
"AFC North road action."
Yeah, right, Coach. You and I both know that when it comes to those tiger cats (or it is rats?) from Southern Ohio, it's more like AFC North roadkill action.
Seriously, since the moment Chris Boswell connected on a 53-yard field goal to jettison Green Bay into the depths of playoff despair, the fans, the media, the players, and even the coaches—who, as I alluded to earlier, should know better (I mean, they watch the tape)—have expressed this fear of the Bengals, as if they were an actual obstacle.
Even last Sunday evening on The Final Score, the post-game show I co-host with Bryan Anthony Davis, the callers were expressing their concerns over Cincinnati, and players like Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Vontaze Burfict.
I wish I could say I was paying attention to those concerns, but I was too distracted with my mental preparation for Monday night's post-game show in-which Bryan and I will be discussing a very satisfying victory in The Jungle (or are they calling Paul Brown Stadium Heinz Field South, these days)?
I don't know much, but I know NFL royalty. I know NFL hierarchy. I know the marquee names, brother, and the Bengals ain't none of those things.
Champions wear black and gold; they don't wear black and orange.
Champions have cool uniforms that look good at home and on the road; they don't wear stripes on their helmets, which look dumb just about anywhere.
Marquee franchises do things like catch Immaculate Receptions, and make Immaculate Extensions.
They have quarterbacks who make key The Tackle in playoff games. They have big, burly linebackers who somehow find a way to intercept a pass and rumble 100 yards in the Super Bowl.
Teams that wear black and orange and stripes on their helmets, they lose in the playoffs to number six seeds wearing black and gold (twice). They have linebackers who win playoff games by intercepting a pass and then burp the win away by trying to knock the head off of a wide-receiver for really no reason at all.
Speaking of that big, burly linebacker, James Harrison, teams who wear black and orange and stripes on their helmets, they hire legends to come play for them, release them, and then watch as they come out of retirement to beat them in the playoffs (and this Monday night at Paul Brown Stadium) as a member of the team they always lost to the first time he played for them.
Again, I don't know much, but I do know this is December. And in December, the Steelers don't lose to the Bengals, not when the former is 9-2, and the latter is the Bengals.
I don't usually make guarantees, but Monday night, brother, Dalton will throw some picks, Ben Roethlisberger will throw some touchdowns, Le'Veon Bell and JuJu Smith-Schuster will play with some catnip (my vision for the duo's latest touchdown celebration), and old Marvin Lewis will be standing on the sidelines with the usual bemused look on his face, knowing this latest loss will not get him fired (as much as he'd like it to) because his boss is just too cheap to go through with it!
Get ready to jump on that escalator early, Bengals fans, you're gonna wanna beat the traffic home on Monday night.