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Sunday Night Football Open Thread: Bengals v. Steelers

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Tonight is the AFC North Division Title Game! Talk Sunday Night Football on Battle Red Blog in this open thread.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

We are in for a flex game tonight on Sunday Night Football as the AFC North Division Title is on the line between the Bengals and Steelers.  The winner of tonight's tilt will host a playoff game, while the loser will be the #5 seed and face the Colts during Wild Card Weekend.

Cbssports.com reported the description of tonight's game best with:

For the first time in four years, the Dallas Cowboys won't lose to a division rival in a do-or-die Sunday Night Football game to wrap up the NFL regular season. That's because after three consecutive de facto NFC East championship games were featured in the prime-time Week 17 flex slot in 2011, 2012 and 2013, the AFC North is getting its chance to close out the season with what is basically a division championship game this Sunday evening.

The difference this time is that both teams taking part -- the 10-4-1 Cincinnati Bengals and the 10-5 Pittsburgh Steelers -- have already clinched playoff berths. So neither team is trying to avoid elimination, but the Bengals are still in contention for a first-round bye and both teams would of course prefer home-field advantage to open the postseason.

The Bengals are looking to repeat as division champs for the first time in 32 years, while the Steelers are looking to avoid their first four-year division-title drought in 23 years. And it appears it's a matchup of two teams "peaking at the right time," because Cincinnati has won five of its last six games and Pittsburgh is riding a three-game winning streak.

I couldn't have said it any better.  This game should be an absolutely bloody battle in Pittsburgh.  Will Ben Roethlisberger defend his home turf, or will Andy Dalton help lead his Cincinnati team to victory?  Both teams have the ability and motivation to put it all on the field tonight.

NFL.com shows the following stats comparison:

Stats are interesting and all, but you can throw out everything in a division game like this where emotions can elevate both teams to new levels against a hated rival who stands in the way.  We are surely in for a showdown tonight in the final game of the NFL regular season.  Pull up a cozy chair and your favorite beverage, and talk Sunday Night Football on Battle Red Blog.  The usual rules apply.

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