Bengals-Steelers: Is It A Rivalry Or A War?

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Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals strong safety Shawn Williams (36) hits Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton (11) during the second quarter in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals strong safety Shawn Williams (36) hits Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Markus Wheaton (11) during the second quarter in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Bengals are preparing for Week 2 action. Heinz Field will serve as the setting for Sunday’s clash. When both teams meet, it will be all out war.

There’s nothing like it. In the sports world, nothing compares to the hatred and disdain the Bengals and Steelers have for each other. Steelers Week in Cincinnati could be considered  a national holiday. Mild mannered citizens are suddenly overtaken by the urge to hate everything Pittsburgh. Suddenly, it’s no longer just the Bengals playing a team. It’s war…and the Men in Stripes are marching into battle. 

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By now, everyone knows that the trash talking has been kept to a minimum. The first game of divisional speed dating is being played Sunday at 1 pm. Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field will be the first stop in the Battle Royal series.

If you aren’t familiar with the disdain the Bengals and Steelers have for each other, allow me to explain. The Bengals hate the Steelers. Conversely, the Steelers ain’t fond of the Bengals. It’s just that simple. There are more than a few ways to break the madness down, but it all comes back to the same thing. The games have evolved into mini nuclear explosions. During the days before each matchup, the anticipation grows until the boiling point. Unfortunately, that tends to be released in anger on the field.

How did the anger become so intense? Years of trash talking and injuries have been firmly fixed in the memories of past and present players. Now, just mentioning the Bengals and Steelers showdown is like playing the dozens. Wait, I’ll explain. The dozens is like word war. Stuff like, “Yo’ mama so fat.” Once the first word bombs have been tossed to the media, the war is on.

The Goal

So far, there have been very few put-downs or negative talk from either camp. But, Marvin Lewis set a few rules to begin the new year. He wants the Bengals focused on one thing: Beating the Steelers. Nothing makes the days and weeks seem so sublime as taking Pittsburgh to the woodshed. But, as the game nears, there are bound to be slip ups. The players are human and filled with seething emotion. Yet, all is quiet on the Heinz Field front.

The lack of off-field nonsense could result in the game of the week. Devoted Bengals fans can remember the reasons the “rivalry” was born. A combination of things made the bubbling brew boil over and start a kitchen fire. The problem? Instead of dousing the flames with baking soda, water was poured into the wounds. Tons of injuries and heated exchanges began to define the game.

With just over a day to go, is the peace and serenity is bound to change? There has been nothing but respect and admiration coming from the Bengals. The Steelers have been put on gag orders from head coach Mike Tomlin.

What’s at the forefront of the silence? The makings of a great game. When the silence is deafening, there’s bound to be a crack in someone’s armor. The only hint of a challenge has come from Antonio Brown. He says the Bengals’ secondary will do anything to cover him.

"“I expect them to roll out the blankets. I expect them to bring deodorant. I expect them to have pillows. I expect them to have an Uber. I expect them to follow me on Twitter. I expect them to watch my Snapchat. I expect them to do whatever it takes–try to do whatever it takes to win the game.”"

Missing in Action

A main cog in the Bengals defense will be inactive. Vontaze Burfict will still be serving his suspension. Several players and analysts have cited this as a reason for the lack of trash talking and social media tirades. Could it be that the Steelers want Burfict in the bunch to antagonize him? Why would Pittsburgh do that? If memory serves me correctly, mind games are a valuable part of fighting a war.

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With no Burfict to blame and all thoughts on the game, what will happen on Sunday? The NFL—and fans watching—will be shocked. There will be a war declared…and the Cincinnati Bengals will come out victorious.

Next: It's All New Baby!

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