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Worilds: 'It's a division full of fighters'

It's not unusual for the AFC North winner to be decided at the end of the season, with it often times coming down to two teams battling it out all the way down to the final seconds.

This year things are a little different though, as all four teams are fighting to win the AFC North title and earn a playoff spot in a tight race. The Bengals lead the AFC North at 8-3-1, while the Steelers, Browns and Ravens all have 7-5 records.

"It hasn't been like this in my eight years playing in the AFC North, but it's always come down to the wire," said cornerback Will Gay. "There was never a clear cut winner until the last week or so. We expect that. That's AFC North football. It's December football so we have to be ready. The chips are all on the line."

The Steelers still have a chance to win the division if they close out the season with four wins, and it starts this week at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday against the Bengals.

"That is the fun thing about playing in this division," said linebacker Jason Worilds. "There is so much talent you have to come with your A game each and every week.

"It's a division full of fighters. Nobody is going to stay down for long. The Browns, Cincinnati and Baltimore all keep everything competitive."

The players are taking it one game at a time, not looking at what is ahead, but instead realizing they are in control of their postseason hopes.

"We want to go out here and expect to get in the playoffs," said Gay. "To do that we must win the next game, which is an important game. Cincinnati, they are leading the division, it's our first time playing them this year so we have to set the tone in the first showing.

"Win or go home. It's the playoffs. We might as well start in December. This is the pre, pre, pre, pre-wild card game. Both teams are going to be fighting."

A look at the Bengals:

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has been a key factor in Cincinnati leading the AFC North with a 8-3-1 record, and Coach Mike Tomlin is impressed with what he sees from the signal caller.

"He's a talented guy no doubt and he's working on building a quality resume as he moves into his second contract," said Tomlin. "He consistently plays at a high level. He's a guy that doesn't beat himself. He plays a good above the neck game and he manages the offense extremely well. He administers the offense extremely well and he spreads the ball around to a bunch of guys. You don't trick him very often, even when he played as an extremely young guy in that offense."

What the Steelers are saying:


Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on not being concerned about the workload running back Le'Veon Bell is receiving:**"He's one of the best players in the game. I know that we need to get him the ball and that's running and passing. He has put so much into and dedicated so much time into his physical conditioning. His strength, conditioning, all those things. So as long as he feels good with it I'm happy. I just know how important he is on that football field for us."

The Bengals perspective:Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis on what he sees from the Steelers?"On offense they have three of the leaders in the NFL this year in Ben (Roethlisberger), (Le'Veon) Bell and (Antonio) Brown. They have three incredible weapons along with the other young guys that are contributing and then (Heath) Miller the tight end. It's a pretty formidable group on offense. Defensively, they are playing things consistent with the pressures and so forth as always. (They're) maybe not getting the sacks as always but they're creating turnovers and big plays. They've scored I think four times on defense this year. I think they're a very good football team."

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