Sunday, September 24, 2006

Who-Dey!

How big was the Cincinnati Bengals victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers today? Consider this: If Baltimore kicker Matt Stover missed his 52-yard field gold with 20 seconds left to play, Pittsburgh would have gone into their bye week a quarter into the season sitting last in the AFC North (although Cleveland and Pittsburgh's overall records would have been tied, the divisional record would have given Cleveland the number 3 spot.)

After the 9-0 loss last Monday to Jacksonville, the Super Bowl champs find themselves 1-2 and two games behind two caliber teams in their division. It's starting to appear that those who predicted that the losses Pittsburgh incurred since last season was going to have a more noticeable impact in the super-competitive AFC and AFC North division were right.

I'm concerned at the lack of protection Carson had this game. The line must protect the blitz and pass rush better than they did today. I did not see what I was encouraged to see against Kansas City. However, that's probably because I was seeing a Pittsburgh defense instead of the Chiefs defense, which is still retooling under their new head coach this season.

Can Cincinnati beat New England? Psychologically they need to win against both New England and the Colts this season. But with a revitialized Ravens franchise that is have a franchise record start and an improving Cleveland team, the AFC North race is so tight that every division game is going to be so tight with such profound consequences.

I predict that we're going to read a lot of "loss of luster" about the Steelers and questions about whether this team has the maturity and depth to become a dynasty and not a one-hit wonder.

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