Ladies and gentlemen of Bengals Nation, today we stand ready to do something that the Cincinnati franchise hasn’t done in 30 years: make back-to-back trips to the NFL playoffs. This season has been full of ups and downs, triumphs and tribulations, and is two weeks from ending in either happiness or sadness. This week will determine which. After last week’s win against the Philadelphia Eagles, we have a one game lead for the second wildcard and the final playoff spot, and we control our own destiny. Win, and we’re in. It’s as simple as that.
Standing in front of us, between us and a shot at playoff redemption is a familiar foe, one we’ve met in battle season after season, each one more bitter than the last. Our opponent is one who has haunted us, taking us behind the woodshed, reminding us constantly who owns the AFC North. Like a bully, they’ve pushed us around constantly, beating us 20 times in 26 matchups since the turn of the century. Even in years where we stood up as a playoff team, they were there to knock us back down, like in 2005, when we won the division. In the postseason they knocked out our quarterback, took our lunch money, and went on to win the Super Bowl, demonstrating yet again who the better franchise is. The Pittsburgh Steelers have dominated this rivalry for a long time, and now they stand between us and history.