Nothing would suit the Bengals more than walking off with the AFC North by sweeping the season series with the Steelers. Indeed, even if Pittsburgh wins this one, its chances of surpassing Cincinnati are not strong.
The Steelers have won their last eight games in December and their offense is on fire: 30 points in four straight games for the first time in club history. They could meet their match, though, because the Bengals have allowed the fewest points in the league with 196.
The Bengals are trying to get a favorable seed and a first-round bye that would leave them in better position to get their first playoff victory since the 1990 season. It's the sixth-longest streak of postseason futility in NFL history.
Even the players who normally talk about taking everything one game at a time sense the bigger picture of what's at stake. The first step is clinching the division.