Hating the Steelers

Of course it’s the Steelers.

The Cincinnati Bengals are 6-2 and have the best record in the AFC. If the season ended today, they’d have the top seed in the conference playoffs.

But they still aren’t taken too seriously. “They haven’t beaten anyone,” comes the claim from their critics. NBC analyst Tony Dungy completely dismissed the Bengals Sunday night, despite them having the same record as the Baltimore Ravens, the team he was praising.

So now here come the Steelers.

Cincinnati starts a month-long run through its division Sunday. They host Pittsburgh, travel to Baltimore, host Cleveland, and then have to visit Pittsburgh. “Now,” say the critics, “we’ll find out if they’re really any good.”

And that’s a fair claim. In any sport, how good you are is determined by what you do on the field. If you don’t think you’re getting enough respect, go out and prove you deserve it.

So, of course, it’s the Steelers. Pittsburgh is the only division foe Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis doesn’t have a winning record against. The Steelers are 8-1 at Paul Brown Stadium in the Marvin Lewis era. It was Pittsburgh who eliminated the Bengals from playoffs contention on the last play of 2006. It was Pittsburgh that blew out Carson Palmer’s knee on the second play of their playoffs game in 2005. Both those games, like Sunday’s will be, were in Cincinnati.

God, I hate the Steelers.

The Steelers come in and break dreams. They ruin your hopes, and then they laugh at you. After blowing out Palmer’s knee in 2005, they crowed about how they were and always would be the superior team. Yeah. Even though they got to face Jon Kitna instead of Palmer. In 2009, Steelers WR Hines Ward was named the NFL’s dirtiest player by his fellow players. Yet Pittsburgh and the media continue to trumpet him as a blue-collar hero. LBs James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley are repeatedly fined for illegal hits, but the media celebrates their tenacity.

Let me make one thing clear: I HATE the Steelers.

So this is it, Bengals. This is the big chance. Prove to me and to the world that you are for real. Leave hollow any argument that you haven’t played anyone or that your record is somehow inflated. Demonstrate that there is a new order rising in the AFC North, and that Pittsburgh is yesterday’s team.

Because I hate them, and I love you, and I want Sunday to be a happy, happy day.

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