- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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We had another thought-provoking "Take your pick" this week in the AFC North, and the results are in.
Here's a sample of responses and an AFC North final say:
It's the Steelers!
Jamie from West Chester, Ohio, writes: Bengals' biggest rival right now? The Steelers without a doubt. There's a lot of bad blood, epic games, plus plenty of players and coaches with both teams on their resumes. The Ravens are getting close, though. The Browns ceased to be a legit rival the day Art Modell moved them to Baltimore.
Dante from Cincinnati writes: Steelers, no doubt about it. It's been that way since the infamous Kimogate, and Peezy punching Levi Jones in Vegas. We smack talk the Ravens but we respect them. And the Browns are like our half brother from our father's first marriage. You have love for them but you never want them to outdo you.
Nate from Bellevue, KY, writes: Without a doubt, it is the Pittsburgh Steelers for me. We can lose a game to Cleveland or Baltimore and I hate it. However, if we lose to Pittsburgh, I am beside myself for a few days or more. It affects my mood, my actions towards people, and I am very irritable. The hatred that I have for the Steelers is only magnified by the large following they have in Cincy and everywhere for that matter (props to their fans for their loyalty, though).
Paul from Batesville, IN, writes: Steelers are far and away our biggest rival. If you talk to anyone in Cincinnati and give them two options: 1. Get swept by the Ravens, or 2. Get swept by the Steelers, I don't know anyone who would rather get swept by the Steelers. We ALWAYS want to beat them and the recent resurgence of the rivalry has only intensified things. We're not far away from each other, which means the Steelers fans are always prevalent at Paul Brown Stadium. I'd much rather be friends with a Browns fan or a Ravens fan than associate myself with a Steelers fan.
Cupp from Hebron, Ohio, writes: Hands down Pittsburgh is the Bengals' biggest rival. Finally, after last season we handed Big Ben his first loss in the state of Ohio. I don't care about any other division game but the Bengals and Pittsburgh.
It's the Browns!
Brad Miller from Deltona, Fla., writes: The Bengals biggest rival has to be the Browns. Even though recent history would suggest the Steelers, if you look at the series matchup its nearly even. The shared history with Paul Brown, the shared history of losing, and if you're from Cincy, it's etiquette to hate EVERYTHING from Cleveland. Just ask Sam Wyche.
Shilp from Columbus, Ohio, writes: As a Cincy native, it's real simple. The Bengals and the great city of Cincinnati hate Cleveland and the Browns. We hate them in every sport. We even jeer for them in sports where we aren't even directly involved (see hatred for the Cavs). Even though the "Browns" may have the namesake of Ohio's greatest football coach, Paul Brown, his heart and legacy is in Cincinnati, not Cleveland. We're home to Paul Brown stadium and it's offensive that a terrible franchise such as Cleveland even has the Brown namesake. It's great that we play them twice a year, because we know we have at least two wins that season and that'll be two more than Cleveland will have.
Ryan from Cincinnati writes: You have to go with the Browns. The overall series is close and being that the founder of both franchises is one of the greatest coaches/owner the league has ever seen, it has to be the Browns. Not to mention Paul's son, Mike Brown, is the owner of the Bengals. Of course there will always be tension with the Steelers and the way they play football. You can't pick the Ravens, because it is not a rivalry if it is a one-sided affair. Go Bengals!
Erik Z from Washington D.C., writes: I don't see how there's much of an argument for the Bengals' biggest rival: it has to be the Browns. For the past decade these two franchises have vied for higher and higher draft picks and they've had some great games to show for it. Recently though, the Browns have gotten the edge with a two-game sweep last season. In 2008 it was the Bengals' dreaded tie that cost them the fifth overall pick, but the Browns must be applauded for their efforts in getting it. No question in my mind.
Scott Wick from Cleveland writes: The Browns are the Bengals' biggest rival overall. Forty years, Paul Brown, in state, and close to an even series. Granted, the Steelers and Bengals are more heated rivals over the last few years, but overall it is the Browns.
AFC North final say
James Walker: This is a classic choice between old school and new school. Based on our responses, more Bengals fans chose the Steelers, and we have to agree. Rivalries change. For example, 10 years ago there was no rivalry between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots. But now it's one of the best rivalries in football because of the big games and success of both teams. The same logic applies here. The Browns used to be Cincinnati's biggest rival. But the lack of winning and lack of competing in important games over a long period have made this matchup meek in comparison to Bengals-Steelers. Natural dislike, crucial games and success for both teams are what make a strong rivalry. Right now, the Cincinnati-Pittsburgh rivalry has those ingredients.