In case you don't get the reference in the post title (ie, you weren't born before like 1970), back in the early/mid 70's the Cincinnati Reds used to be called "The Big Red Machine."
But fast forward 35 years, and there's a new Big Red Machine in southwest Ohio, Bengals QB Andy Dalton (I'm going to give you all the benefit of the doubt and assume you understand why I'm calling him The Big Red Machine 2.0).
In case you've had your head up your ass, the Bengals are a whole different animal from what they've been in the past, not the least aspect of which is Dalton (and not Carson Palmer) under center.
Fact is, say whatever you want, but they're currently leading the entire AFC.
Yes, that's probably as anomalous as it is unbelievable, but as they say, you ain't #1 unless you're #1.
So, it's the Steelers' jobs to change that.
The zubaz-wearing, Queen's City rollers have indeed won five straight, albeit three of those wins coming against the Jags, Curtis Painter, and the Seacocks.
But with their bandwagon strong, the Bengals are legit contenders as of this point in the season, despite their offseason makeover.
But if it's any consolation, James Farrior and Troy will both be ready for action come Sunday.
If last week was a must-win, this week, failure is not an option.
The Steelers are comfortable at 6-3, but they're 0-2 in the division.
With a bye week coming on the other side of tomorrow's game, falling to 6-4 - while the Bengals could be 8-2 and the Ravens either 8-2 or at worst 6-4 (and holding the tiebreaker) by Week 11 - would be less than ideal.
But the reality is, this is a division game.
The first of two against the Bongles that'll occur within a four week span (whoever is responsible for that scheduling should be escorted out of the league office, ps).
We already lost to Baltimore twice.
It's time to start reasserting ourselves over this division with less than half a season left.
So, with that said, let's get right down to it.
Hit the jump and join me as I talk about some big pussies...
Now, you may not think of me as the world's foremost authority on Swagger.
As I'm sure you don't need to tell you, I've probably got about as much of it as a bag of Frito's.
Well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but put it this way - I'm no Ike Taylor.
Either way, let's talk about "swagger" for a moment, shall we?
There's a fine line between "swagger" and "overconfidence.'
Between "swagger" and "a false sense of security."
Between "swagger" and "being an a-hole."
The Baltimore Sun may like Terrell Suggs's mouth now (sidebar - how could anyone love that mouth, what with the Guinness world record for gum to teeth size differential), but how are they going to like it on Monday if the Steelers give it to the Ravens tomorrow night?
The ability to waste your breath regurgitating bullshit has never shown any correlation with winning.
At least not that I'm aware of...
What has, however, is preparation, dedication, hard work, determination - all of the things I have to assume the Steelers have been engaged in this week, getting ready for an epic duel of a match up that will take place in a matter of 24 hours or so.
Am I trying to say that the Ravens haven't done the same, in addition to one of them giving his jaws as much work as the rest of his body?
I couldn't really vouch for that.
All I am saying is, frankly, if my team had lost to the Jagoffs, and nearly lost to the Cardinals, my first instinct wouldn't be to write an entire column praising it getting its "swagger back."
However, I think the last line in that screen shot above is something we can all agree on...
Like I said in the preliminary recap, this win didn't mean anything more than another tick in the left column, really.
But the feeling of beating the Patriots, in the way we did it, was worth savoring, if only briefly.
With everyone picking against the Steelers and in favor of the Patriots offense, it certainly was gratifying to remind them that oh, by the way, the Steelers are legit.
Oh yeah, and don't look now, but at 6-2, the Steelers currently own the best record in the AFC.
Yes, the reality is there's a much bigger game just a few days away.
And yes, no one should get too hung up on a Week 8 win when there are eight more games to be won (or lost, as the case may be).
But one more time...
There, now that it's out of our systems, we can officially open the book on Ravens week.
And since we're already two days out from Sunday, and I've mentioned the general significance of the upcoming game a couple of times already in those two days, I'm just going to direct your attention to the "Things That Were Awesome," and "Things That Were NOT Awesome," below.
Less filler, for your Tuesday afternoon enjoyment.
But you can't pretend like the case for it isn't as clear as Ochocinco's repressed sexuality.
Either way, this game has become this week's marquee matchup...
ESPN.com's front page yesterday.
CBSSports.com's front page today.
When I sat down to write this thing, part of me was like, dude, how many times can I possibly re-use the same tired ass jokes from the last few years, mostly involving Tom Brady, various items of womens' attire and goats?
It honestly does get hard to come up with fresh material year-after-year, let alone twice a season like I have to for the Ravens, Gowns, and Svengalis.
So, I've tried to do that in this week's preview, but there's no real guarantee that I'm going to be able to get that creative with all aspects of the New England Patriots.
Still, at least they're kind of an easy target.
Classic internet lore, in case you've never seen it before, stop watching so much Star Trek.
But seriously, you guys - football-wise, there's a reason why this game has been circled on my calendar for the last [at least] seven weeks.
Say what you want about the Cheatriots collective and individual personality(ies), the past history between us, etc., but you can't really pretend like you're surprised they're 5-1 and still have one of the most potent offenses in the league.
Not that you can say the same for their defense up to this point, but...
So, while I'm clearly not going to deviate from my standard regimen of haterade in this post (for the most part), I felt like I had to at least make it a point to acknowledge the fact that this year's game could totally end up like last years and others against the Hatriots.
That said, no.
Obviously I have no authority or particular context with which to say what is or is not going to happen, but I'm going to have faith and say that win or lose, this is going to be a fight.
And honestly, I don't know if I would go so far as to say it's "fun" to play good teams, but it definitely makes things more interesting.
Thus far this season, the Steelers have found success against a hand full of teams, but the only team approaching what you might call a "powerhouse" that they've played is the Ravens, and you all remember how that went (granted that was a monumentally atypical shitshow).
So, this one is a big one.
A chance to put a stake in the ground.
It isn't necessarily going to get us anything more than another W (though a win is a win closer to putting separation between us and the Ravens/Bengals), but it could say a lot about the team's ultimate success.
Or, it couldn't.
That's the beauty of life - nothing is certain and even things that seem related may not be/probably are not at all.
Anyway, when I start waxing philosophical about the Steelers, I think that's pretty much my cue to cut the crap and get to the preview.
First, the Steelers give it to the Cardinals to go 5-2, and then the Jags SHUT THE RAVENS DOWN 12-7, holding the entire Ravens offense to under 150 total yards.
Which means that for the time being (read: at least until next week), the Steelers own the AFC North, with a game lead on Assaultimore.
Begging the question - is this real life right now?
And before I get to anything Steelers, I gotta say, how about Josh Scobee, man?
Tres field goals of over 50 yards, cuatro on the dia.
My new hero.
Now, as for Steelers-Cardinals, it's another well-earned notch on the Steelers' collective belt.
With New England and Baltimore on the horizon, it certainly was an important game.
And, any opportunity we can get to remind Arizona that despite the overwhelming amount of former Steelers on their roster and coaching staff, they are still a broke ass version of the black and gold, I'm all for it.
Someone get Ken Whisenhunt a fistful of advil.
Things indeed went pretty well for the Steelers on Sunday.
I'm not going to say it was the best game ever played, but there were definitely way more awesome things than not awesome things, which always makes my job here a lot more fun.
So, given that we had a preliminary conversation about this game on Sunday evening/yesterday, I feel pretty comfortable just diving right into the "Things That were Awesome," and "Things That Were NOT Awesome," below.