Dec 6, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes against the Indianapolis Colts during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 45-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
Most fans of the Bengals, Browns and Ravens will agree that the Pittsburgh Steelers are the most hated team in the AFC North. Pittsburgh’s players come off as cocky, and its fans seem to talk more trash than fans of any other team.
But the most frustrating thing about the Steelers is this:
They’re really, really good.
Pittsburgh has an all-time winning record against every AFC North team, and the Steelers are 6-1 all-time against AFC North teams in the playoffs.
The one loss came last season, when the Ravens got the best of the Steelers, who were down one superstar running back by the name of Le’Veon Bell.
Antonio Brown is a huge threat as a pass-catcher and a returner. Brown’s fourth return touchdown of his career came on Sunday Night Football against the Colts, which was the first return touchdown of his career against a team other than the Bengals.
Martavis Bryant is, in my eyes, the NFL’s best deep threat. He’s the second-most physically gifted receiver in the NFL behind only Calvin Johnson, who has earned the nickname Megatron. When is Bryant going to earn a nickname? While Brown is one of the NFL’s best receivers, I personally like Bryant even more, strictly due to his freakish abilities. We should start calling him “The Freak.” I know that Jevon Kearse once donned the nickname, but there’s nothing wrong with giving the same nickname to multiple players–Bryant deserves it.
Talking about how good the Steelers are pains me, but I’m not done yet.
Contrary to popular belief, the Bengals’ most critical playoff struggle has not been bad quarterback play. Rather, it’s been a complete inability to stop the run.
And with DeAngelo Williams proving to be a starting-caliber running back at age 32, stopping the Steelers’ offense becomes that much more difficult.
Even with a suspect defense, Pittsburgh is potent. The Steelers have a better offense than Cincinnati, and while the Bengals may have the better defense of the two teams, it has been nonexistent in every playoff game.
Luckily, since Bengals fans like myself loathe the Steelers, it will be easy to root against Pittsburgh. That’s not to say that I don’t have respect for the quality work Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert and the Steelers staff have been doing.
If the Bengals can top the Steelers this coming Sunday, Pittsburgh will fall to 7-6. Ideally, that could be a start towards a potential Steelers downfall out of playoff contention.