The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor is heading into free agency, as is Trai Turner.
These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Will you root for or against the Cincinnati Bengals to win the Super Bowl in two weeks?
For the first time since 2012, an AFC North team is in the Super Bowl. No, it’s not the Cleveland Browns, who’ve never been there. It’s not the Baltimore Ravens, who were the last time to reach the title game in the aforementioned year. And it’s certainly not the Steelers, who lost their last title shot in 2010.
No, it’s the Cincinnati Bengals, the team that went 6-25-1 across the 2019-2020 seasons before finishing the 2021 season 10-7, good enough to win the AFC North, their first division title (and playoff appearance) since the 2015 season.
The last time that they even won a playoff game or appeared in the Divisional Round prior to this year was in 1990. But they were in the Super Bowl just two years prior to that, losing to the San Francisco 49ers in 1988 (they also lost to San Francisco in the Super Bowl in 1981).
Fortunately for them, the Los Angeles Rams spared them from having to play the 49ers in the Super Bowl yet again after taking them down in the NFC Championship Game last night, just after the Bengals conquered the Kansas City Chiefs, effectively shutting down their offense in the second half and making Patrick Mahomes look altogether pedestrian.
And so the table is set. Matthew Stafford, in his first deep postseason run in his 13th season, his first since being traded to L.A., and his Rams will face Joe Burrow and the Bengals, who had not won even a single playoff game since well before their quarterback was even born.
What kind of fan are you? Do you always root against your divisional rivals, or does it depend on which rival? Do you root for your rivals when your own team is out of the picture? Do you simply like or dislike the Bengals from a more objective view? Are you maybe just ultimately rooting for Stafford, or maybe Sean McVay, or Aaron Donald? Who will you be pulling for, if anybody, this championship season?