There’s a big shake-up happening in the AFC North, and it’s good news for the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals swept division rival Pittsburgh Steelers and moved to 7-4 in a 41-10 rout yesterday afternoon. The Bengals have become synonymous with mediocracy (or worse) as the last time they advanced past the wild card round was 1990 when they beat the Houston Oilers, but this game may be an indication of a Bengal team on the rise.

The Steelers have long been the team to beat in the AFC North, but the Bengals think that era is coming to a close.

“It’s a big changing of the guard, in our opinion,” Bengals defensive back Mike Hilton, who had a first-half ending pick-six, said of the rivalry. “It’s giving us a lot of confidence and guys are excited to see how the rest of the season plays out.”

Joe Mixon ran all over the Steelers. He rushed for 165 yards on 28 attempts and two touchdowns. The Bengals’ defense was stout, with the Steelers’ lone touchdown coming in garbage time. They forced three turnovers, one of them being another Trey Hendrickson strip-sack to up his total to 10.5 sacks on the season.

The loss brings a new level of frustration to the Steelers.

“It wasn’t something any of us are proud of,” Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt said. “You never want to have that feeling coming out of a game … We have to stop this before it continues to unravel and become a bigger issue than what it already is.”

Sitting at .500 with six weeks left, the Steelers still have a shot at the playoffs, but they will need to figure out their problems – and quickly. The Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs remain on their schedule.

The Bengals look for their third straight win as they take on the San Diego Chargers next week.

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