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AFC North

Know Thy Enemy: Cincinnati Bengals

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Hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas!

Steeler Nation found an early present under the tree last weekend when the Pittsburgh Steelers clinched their first playoff appearance after a two year absence. While making it to the dance was step one, the Black and Gold have higher aspirations. For them to come true, step two would be winning the AFC North and gaining home field advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs.

Standing in their way: the Cincinnati Bengals.Read More »Know Thy Enemy: Cincinnati Bengals

North Bowl Bumped To Prime Time

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Sweep The Leg Bengals!
Sweep The Leg Bengals!

For those who skipped Sunday Night Football, well, you missed an absolutely incredible Beast Mode run by Marshawn Lynch. You also missed the announcement that NBC was closing out the 2014 regular season by flexing this weekend’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals (aka the AFC North Bowl) into the prime time. While there are two other juicy match-ups, including a virtual playoff game between Atlanta and Carolina, I’m not really surprised they chose to showcase a team with an unparalleled national following like the Steelers.   

Which isn’t to say the North Bowl isn’t important in its own right.Read More »North Bowl Bumped To Prime Time

Week 16 Recap: Back Where We Belong

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Suck It, Haters!
“Suck It, Haters!”

The Pittsburgh Steelers ended their unbearable two year post-season drought in emphatic fashion, clinching a spot in the 2014 NFL playoffs with a convincing 20-12 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. I’m not sure I’d call this their most impressive win of the season although it was easily the most solid. In my preview I talked glowingly of the Chiefs which, truth be told, was based almost entirely on their impressive stats. Going by what I saw yesterday, KC is certainly not the highest caliber opponent we’ve faced this year.

I call this win solid because for the first time this year, the Steelers performed well in all three phases. Nobody on offense put up huge numbers and there weren’t any memorable splash plays but as a group they moved the ball almost effortlessly against what was billed as a superior defense. Ben Roethlisberger was an efficient 18/25 for 220 yards, Le’Veon Bell had 63 yards on 20 carries and both Heath Miller and Antonio Brown caught 7 balls for 68 and 72 yards respectively. All this added up to scores on four of their six drives. Read More »Week 16 Recap: Back Where We Belong

Steelers Playoff Scenarios Simplified (Not Really)

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With a win last Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers are poised to make their first postseason appearance since getting Tebow’d out back in 2011. While they haven’t officially clinched anything yet, they’re in good shape heading into the last two weeks of the season. At this point,  going 0-2 would be the only deathblow to their chances. While neither the Chiefs nor Bengals are exactly easy wins, it’s certainly nice to have control of our own destiny for a change.

The NFL’s system of rankings and tiebreakers is confusing to say the least. I’ve done these posts numerous times in my nearly ten years of blogging and if I’m being honest I don’t always get it right. Of course, I’ve heard broadcasters on national TV get the scenarios wrong so I’m hardly alone in my confusion. Anyway, without further ado, here are the Steelers playoff scenarios simplified (not really).Read More »Steelers Playoff Scenarios Simplified (Not Really)

Week 14 Recap: Answering The Bell

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Martavis Bryant 94 TD Catch

Well, that was unexpected…

A week after a miserable showing against the Saints, the Pittsburgh Steelers went out and crushed the Cincinnati Bengals 42-21 to tighten the race in both the AFC North and AFC Playoffs. How convincing was this victory? So convincing Andy Dalton watched the final five minutes from the sideline after Marvin Lewis all but threw in the towel.

Of course, if the Black and Gold hold to 2014 form, I fully expect them to crap the bed next week in Atlanta.Read More »Week 14 Recap: Answering The Bell

Know Thy Enemy: Cincinnati Bengals

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It comes down to this…

I’ve done these previews all season and all season I’ve tried to avoid the ridiculous hype you read on blogs or that seemingly infests sports talk radio. I’ve called certain games key or mentioned a win was crucial for this reason or that but I’ve purposely avoided calling any game a “must-win.” Well, this week the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Cincinnati Bengals and it’s about a close to a must-win situation as you can get. No, a loss doesn’t eliminate them from playoff contention but it does deal their chances a critical blow.

Naturally, it comes down to the Cincinnati Bengals.Read More »Know Thy Enemy: Cincinnati Bengals

Steelers Destiny Is In Their Hands

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Ah, nothing like leaving balmy 75 degree Florida and being welcomed back to the ‘Burgh by a brisk 35 degree day.

With the holidays temporarily behind us, we can focus on important things…like whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers will make the playoffs. To be honest, after everything I’ve seen, this smells like another 8-8 team to me. While mediocrity seems to be a league-wide epidemic this year, I’m not sure if 8-8 will be good enough to make the post-season in the AFC. With six teams currently tied at 7-5 for the second Wild Card spot, I’d wager 9-7 will be needed to make the playoffs.

That’s the bad news.Read More »Steelers Destiny Is In Their Hands

How The North Was Won (By The Browns?)

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Sorry I’ve been MIA the past few days but with the Pittsburgh Steelers on a well-deserved bye, I figured I deserved a brief break myself. Besides, I’ve been busy packing for my Turkey Day trip. I’m headed down to Tampa to spend the holiday with my parents, who retired there a few years ago. Guess they didn’t get the memo that Arizona is considered Pittsburgh West.

I leave this evening and will be gone until next Tuesday. Know Thy Enemy will be up on Friday and I’ll make every effort to get a game recap up on Monday. My dad has DirectTV to watch the Black and Gold – what, did you expect him to watch the Bucs? – but I’m hoping to find a nice Stiller Bar to watch the game. If anybody reading knows of one, drop some knowledge down in the comments. In the meantime, unless the Steelers do something earth-shaking like sign Ray Rice to back-up Le’Veon Bell, updates will be sparse between now and next week. Read More »How The North Was Won (By The Browns?)

Your First Place…Cleveland Browns?

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north stand

I think we’ve received our first sign of the apocalypse…

The NFL is unpredictable. Regardless of what the scamdicappers who advertise on late night TV may tell you, even the best gamblers are lucky to get half the games right on any given week. Never mind the fools at blogs who “preview” the next year’s games during the off-season or the media types who write preseason prediction articles. The reality is outside of the really really good teams and the really bad teams, it’s hard to figure where the rest are going to land.

Enter your first place Cleveland Browns.Read More »Your First Place…Cleveland Browns?