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Steelers will have the privilege to host the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday

Pittsburgh's win over the Denver Broncos tightened things in the AFC North. A dreamer's dream -- or is it a dreamer's fool, a foolish dream -- was concocted on the basis that the Steelers would lose to a rebounding Broncos who were annihilated by the Baltimore Ravens. What a let down that was. That's what we get when cheering for another team to take out the Steelers -- not that Pittsburgh would be so easily tempted to fall into a one-game disadvantage in the division heading into a critical divisional meeting.

So the showdown begins. The Bengals travel to Heinz field this Sunday. Two teams enter, one team leaves (or whatever corny catchphrase you want to use here). The division is at stake. Cincinnati is looking to capture the season sweep against another divisional powerhouse that could later serve them in tie-breaking scenarios (head-to-head record is the first tie-breaker). Even if the Bengals lose, the Steelers play Baltimore twice. The second tie-breaker is record in the division. If the Bengals beat the Browns, they'll finish at 5-1 in the division. Baltimore beats Pittsburgh, and the Bengals already win that tie-breaker.

Oddly enough, Cincinnati is in a good position right now. If they falter against the Steelers, they could still regroup. There's still eight games this season. There's also two notable things that the Bengals have to deal with this week that they didn't the last time both teams met.

  • Troy Polamalu didn't play during the Bengals 23-20 win on September 27.
  • Rashard Mendenhall didn't carry the football the last time the two teams met. Since then, he's recorded performances of 165 yards rushing against the Chargers and 155 yards rushing against Denver.

Are you ready for, what could be, the game of the year?

Sometimes it's nice to stand back for some perspective. Let's take a moment and reflect for a moment. This time last year, Cincinnati's bye week came in the tenth week of the season. They had just beaten the Jacksonville Jaguars 21-19, thanks to Johnathan Joseph pass deflection on a two-point conversion with just over one minute left in the game. Since that point, the Bengals won nine of their next 15 games, including the 13-13 tie against the Philadelphia Eagles.

This time last year, we're supporting a team that's 1-8. This year, we're supporting a team that's 6-2, heading to Pittsburgh to challenge last year's Super Bowl champion. My, how quickly things change.

Mike Zimmer is never satisfied. C Trent Rosencrans writes about Mike Zimmer's "tough love" for his defense. The story takes an angle that's both interesting and exciting for Bengals fans.

Coming out of the bye week with a 5-2 record and on the heels of a dominating performance over the Bears, the Bengals felt pretty good about themselves. Their defensive coordinator wasn't going to let them feel like they'd accomplished much of anything.

From the first guy in the front row, to the last man in the back - which just happened to be Peko - Zimmer let everyone know just exactly what they needed to work on to be a better player. No player was immune; every single one got their moment under the heat lamp that the Bengals' second-year defensive coordinator.

Most of the players C Trent got ahold of had never gone through something like that. And every one of them respects the hell out of Zimmer. Domata Peko says “Zim’s up there right now in his laboratory getting it done. He’s still doing his thing.”

Time to man up boys. Marvin Lewis on the Division:

"It's one of our goals to win the division and in order to win the division you need to beat the division teams," Lewis said. "We take pride in this division. It didn't surprise me that Baltimore beat Denver. It wouldn't surprise me if Pittsburgh beats Denver. I expect them to be 6-2 when we go to Pittsburgh on Sunday.

"We expect the teams in this division to play well when they go outside the division. You have to man up when you come over here and that's the way it's going to be."

This might satisfy many (if not most... if not all). PFT writes that the league proposed a rookie wage scale. Do you mean there's a chance that first-round holdouts could have seen its last days? There's still another year left in the CBA, but I think the league and players union will do everything they can to prevent the CBA from hitting the final year. We'll see.