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Thursday Night Football: Cleveland Browns v. Cincinnati Bengals

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Tonight we have an AFC North battle between the Browns and Bengals. Watch the game and join the conversation right here on Battle Red Blog.

Can you imagine the smell of this stadium after these fans eat Skyline Chili?
Can you imagine the smell of this stadium after these fans eat Skyline Chili?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFC North sure looks different this season than in recent years.  The Steelers (4-4) are in second place in the division, have been without QB Ben Roethlisberger most of the season due to injury, and they just lost RB Le'Veon Bell for the year with a knee injury.  Instead of pressing for a playoff run, the Ravens (2-6) are anchoring the bottom of the division.

Before you rush to insert things down below (h/t PHRASING!), let's take a look at the other two teams who are playing each other tonight...

Cleveland Browns (2-6)

QB Johnny Manziel was named the starter for this tilt against Cincinnati.  Can he lead the Browns to a victory tonight to snap the Bengals seven-game winning streak?  There's a better chance of MDC declaring Skyline Chili as a tasty and nutritious meal option.

In fact, since we have so many new members around there, let's take a moment and reflect on one of the best installments of the Two-Day Hangover series (2DH), where MDC provides one of his classic rants:

Ok, so this isn't really about BBQ, but I didn't have a good BBQU worked up for this week, so I figured I'd just shove this part in instead. I can't let a game with the Bengals go by without mentioning the god-awful concoction that is Skyline Chili. First, some background, via the Wiki:

"Skyline Chili is unique in that it is not chili con carne, the meat dish that originated in (and is the state dish of) Texas. Instead, Cincinnati-style chili is a sauce usually used over spaghetti or hot dogs, containing a unique spice blend that gives it a very distinct taste. Officially, the recipe for Skyline Chili is a well-kept family secret among Lambrinides' surviving children. However, many Skyline patrons believe that the unique taste of Skyline Chili comes from chocolate and cinnamon, spices common in Greek cuisine's meat dishes. The general recipe is not unique to Skyline — "Cincinnati-style" chili is sold by several chili parlors in the area including Empress, Dixie, Gold Star Chili, Camp Washington, Dawson's School House of Chili, and other chili parlors."

While that description should be enough to make you recoil in horror and become angry that someone would call this stuff "chili," even the Wiki fails to adequately describe how terrible the stuff really is. It's a "very distinct taste" in the same way that I imagine you could call dogshit a "very distinct taste," were you to eat some. Seriously, even if you can get past the fact that it's served over spaghetti noodles, you still have to deal with the fact that it literally reeks of cinnamon and tastes nothing like you'd actually consider "chili" or "edible."

If you haven't had the opportunity to read a 2DH, and even if you have, I encourage you to go visit that specific installment.  Why?  Well, for one thing, what exactly would you miss out on right now...the pregame nausea of a game between the Browns against the Bengals?  Please.  More importantly, and the reason I encourage you to go read it, is that MDC captured a peculiar and alarming trend in the performance of one Matt Schaub at the tail-end of the 2012 season.  To our horror, it would turn out that Schaub's decline would continue from that once promising 12-4 regular season into a complete collapse the following year that thrust us deep into the miserable situation we find ourselves in today.

MDC also shared his entertaining thoughts on the Alien movie series, including the problematic plot-holes of the movie Prometheus.  There is also a stat comparison of tight ends that might have you clawing at your display in lust compared to what we have this year.  It really is a "must read" piece in my opinion.

Cincinnati Bengals (7-0)

Andy Dalton is actually having a great season in this offensive scheme, and the Bengals are cruising undefeated to lead their division.  They'll probably be 8-0 after tonight, unless Dalton ate Skyline Chili right before kickoff.

Next week the Bengals will be hosting your 3-5 Houston Texans.

Here is the team comparison from NFL.com:

That's your preview.  Enjoy the game!