Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Bungles Bengals step up, fill the void 

Today's the first game in what I'm calling a brand new rivalry: Steelers-Bengals.

Sure, they've always been "divisional rivals." But the Steelers becoming good in '92 coincided with the Bengals becoming horrid. Meaningful games between these teams have been nonexistent for a long time.

And the rejuvenated Bengals have come along just in time, since the Steeler coaches and players really have no "circle this game in red and hype it up" games on the calendar. There's a void. The Browns suck. The Jaguars feud lost its luster when the NFL took them out of our division in realignment. And the Ravens rivalry? So 2001.

But now we've got two young quarterbacks -- Big Ben and Carson Palmer -- who could go at each other twice a year for a long time, like Kosar, Moon, and Esiason from the mid-80's to early 90's in the AFC Central. Roethlisberger and Palmer enter the game as #1 and #2 in QB rating in the NFL. Both teams are good. Add to the mix a fiery Steeler defense and one of the league's great trash-talkers and most talented wide receivers in Chad Johnson, and presto...instant rivalry.

Sure, Carson and Ben faced each other last year -- while still learning the ropes. Now it's 2005. And as the midget guy says in Me, Myself, and Irene, "Oh, isss on now!"

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