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Thursday, September 21, 2006

The AFC North's Biggest Rivalry: Steelers vs. __________

In his weekly "First-and-10" column, ESPN football analyst Hermey the elf says the following about the Bengals-Steelers matchup this weekend:

"[Chad] Johnson may say the Ohio rivalry against the Browns is better, but he's wrong. This is evolving into one of the best rivalries in football."

During my relatively short time here on earth, each of the following matchups has been considered the most significant intra-divisional AFC Central/AFC North rivalry at some point:

1. Steelers-Browns
2. Steelers-Ravens
3. Steelers-Oilers
4. Steelers-Titans
5. Steelers-Jaguars
6. and now, Steelers-Bengals

Do you see the common denominator here? No one in the history of the AFC has EVER talked about the "heated Oilers-Browns rivalry" or "the historic emnity between the Ravens and the Jaguars." It has always been the Steelers vs. Johnny-Come-Lately.

Success is the NFL is rare and fleeting. Except for the Pittsburgh Steelers, for whom it's the norm.

Of these various permutations, I personally prefer the Steelers-Ravens rivalry. After all, they're the real Browns, and the Steelers' rivalry with the Browns has the richest history. Also, unlike those other pretenders, the Ravens have at least won a Super Bowl. (Two if you count the Baltimore Colts' championship. But definitely not five.)

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