There will be no love lost between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in a pivotal matchup in the AFC North.
Earlier in the week, Steelers offensive lineman David DeCastro said: "We don't like them. They don't like us."
Both teams are prepping for a hostile battle.
"It's going to be bloody on both sides," Bengals receiver Marvin Jones said Wednesday, via ESPN.com. "We expect that."
The AFC's No. 1 seeded Bengals are angling for their first season sweep over the Steelers since 2009, after scoring a Week 8 win. Under Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh is 16-7 versus Cincy, including 9-2 on the road. The Bengals, meanwhile are 3-6 with Dalton under the helm.
Aside from needing the win to leap back into playoff positioning, Pittsburgh has some payback to hand out -- for more than just the earlier loss. The past two games versus the Steelers, the Bengals injured star running back Le'Veon Bell. Last season Reggie Nelson hit Bell low, sidelining the running back for a playoff loss. In Week 8, Vontaze Burfict tackled the back from behind tearing up Bells' knee -- Steelers players took offense to Burfict's celebration of the tackle afterwards and don't believe the linebacker wasn't aware of the injury.
Pittsburgh linebacker Vince Williams attempted to lump the Bengals in with every other playoff contender.
"It's just a regular game, another AFC opponent," Williams said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It's a must-win for us. We're already in playoff mode. We can't lose any more AFC games."
When asked if there was bad blood between the teams, Williams responded:
"Man, there's bad blood with anybody standing in our way trying to prevent us from getting to the playoffs," Williams said. "That's the mentality we have. That's the approach we're taking into the game."
Williams can downplay the emotions all he wants, the reality is these teams have deep-seeded reasons for hate to boil. To steal a line from Steve Smith Sr., put your goggles on, because there will be blood and guts spewed Sunday.