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These aren't the same Bungles

The Cincinnati Bengals have been a joke the past decade or two.

We're talking Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL kind of joke.

So it's not that surprising that many people want to overlook them this Sunday.

After all, the Steelers own the Bengals, especially in Cincinnati where the Black 'n Gold have won eight straight.

But this team is different than last year's 4-11-1 squad.

For one, Carson Palmer is healthy. I'm sure you remember Palmer, he's the one that led the Bengals to a division title the year the Steelers won the Super Bowl.

The Bengals also have a running game with Cedric Benson, who's coming off a 141-yard game against the Packers. It was Benson's third 100-yard game out of his last four.

The Bengals have a pass rush, too, which should give the Steelers' offensive line fits.

Cincinnati should be 2-0, if it weren't for the miracle finish by the Broncos two weeks ago.

And I'm sure the Bengals will be fired up to give the defending champs their best shot.

Still, this is a game the Steelers should win. Although it will be a lot closer than people expect. And if the Steelers lose ... well, then it might be time to start to worry.

The pick: Steelers, 21-20.


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So much for Byron the great backup

I never understood the Steelers' fascination with their backup quarterbacks.

They've had either Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich for what seems like ages now.

And when the Steelers really needed a backup, Leftwich couldn't deliver.

Leftwich rambled 31 yards for a touchdown Sunday against the Ravens, but other than that burst, the Steelers couldn't do anything on offense in a 13-10 loss that puts them in a bad position in the AFC North.

Leftwich, with his long delivery, looks better suited for the Pirates' bullpen than behind center.

He went 18-for-39 passing for 201 yards, but couldn't help a Steelers' offense that looks lost right now.

The Ravens came into the game with a weak defense. The thought was Leftwich could manage the game, the Steelers could find a running back to rely on and they'd escape with a win.

It didn't work out that way.

And it looks like we could see Batch at QB this week -- or someone else.

The Steelers are worried about Leftw…