Today’s game between the Bengals and Browns is important for a lot of reasons. Cincinnati is only a game out of first place in the AFC North. A win today sets up a critical showdown with Pittsburgh next week and ensures they don’t lose pace with Baltimore.
The Bengals can also create their largest lead in the annual Battle of Ohio. A win would give Cincinnati a five-game lead, which would not only tie their largest margin in the series but also give them five wins in row over the Browns, the longest winning in the streak in the series.
And, as long as they keep winning, they are in the driver’s seat for a playoffs berth. They currently enjoy a one-game lead over all teams chasing them, and own the tiebreak over all but Denver.
None of that really matters.
What’s really important is that my brother roots for the Cleveland Browns. An unfortunate and unreasonable misinterpretation of family sports loyalties has him rooting for the wrong NFL team from Ohio.
And since the Browns are his team, it is very, very important that the Bengals win. You see, there is nothing more important than beating your brother — especially your little brother — at anything and everything. One must prove one’s sibling superiority at all times.
I beat him repeatedly at football in the backyard when we were growing up. I chose the Saturday morning cartoons we watched. As the older brother, it was my job to be better than he.
Life, being unjust, allows him to win here and there. He threw me out in a Little League game once. He makes more money than I do.
Amazingly, we will be watching the game together for only the fourth time in our adult lives. Living eight hours apart inhibits our ability to laugh at the other guy’s misfortune to his face. Little Bro currently enjoys a 2-1 lead in this series. But the visitor has won every single time. And I’m at his house.
So it’s on today. This is about so much more than the Battle of Ohio and the Bengals’ postseason chances. This is about me beating my little brother.
There is nothing more important.