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Is Bengals vs Steelers a must win for Cincinnati?

The Bengals go into Pittsburgh on Sunday for a very important divisional game. Is Cincinnati in a must win scenario with the Steelers?

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

It is kind of insane to say that a 6-0 team with a 2.5 game lead in their division is facing a must-win scenario. Worst case scenario on Sunday is the Bengals lose and still hold a 6-1 record with a big division lead. So there is no way that the pressure is on Cincinnati to win. Or is it?

The 2015 Bengals look legit and to most of the world, they have passed the eye test. Andy Dalton is having a career-defining season so far and the Bengals have yet to notch a mark in the L column. However, many can't shake the thoughts of the past: the Bengals choke, they are the kid brother to the Steelers and Dalton collapses when it matters.

One way to continue that narrative and plant that ever small but eternally growing seed of doubt, is to go into Pittsburgh and lose. The media would jump on calling the Bengals phonies for losing to the one team they faced with a winning record. They would lament at saying with Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are the better team. There is no capital with the Bengals after their showings on the big stage and a loss in Pittsburgh would help cement those thoughts.

We as fans know, you can't erase anything until the postseason, but we see the tide turning. We relish the respect everyone outside of Colin Cowherd is giving Cincinnati. We use phrases like "one game at a time" as we secretly look at the schedule and think the Bengals have a good chance of beating everyone else on there. We see the difference in number 14 and although cautious, we are starting to tell more people about it.

So the Bengals NEED to go into Pittsburgh and win. Beat the teams you are supposed to and win the games you are favored in. There is nothing different this week. Forget about last season or the countless times in the past when the Steelers handled the Bengals. This is not the same team. Attack on offense, pressure and tackle on defense and prove that what's happened the past six weeks isn't a fluke.

Then next week, the doubters can continue to point at the fact the Bengals haven't beaten anyone with a winning record. I would be just fine with that.