The NFL is all about matchups.
The No. 1 wide receivers for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals are a matchup problem for their opponent every week, but this week in Cincinnati they'll face off with each other in the fight for receiver supremacy.
Weight: 181 pounds
College: Central Michigan
Stats: 93 catches, 1,410 yards, seven receiving touchdowns (along with one punt return score). Brown has 126 targets through 12 games, and he'd probably have more if Ben Roethlisberger wasn't hurt.
Go-to move: Brown's got the full arsenal, but his best move might be working the sideline on the deep corner route, using his elite footwork to stay in bounds as Roethlisberger throws it where no one else can get it. He keeps his feet in bounds when he has no business doing so.
Best TD celebration: The front flip is the best, for sheer difficulty. In Week 9, Brown broke into a flip full-speed and landed perfectly on both feet. The goal-post straddle was a little awkward. He failed to stick the landing.
Nickname: AB (Short for, well, you know)
Quirky personality trait: Brown is an early-90s throwback cat, with gold ropes and Nino Brown-inspired haircuts. He loves fashion.
Why he’s the best: This is the mic-drop stat: Brown is approaching a second straight season of at least 125 catches and at least 1,600 yards. No one's touching that. Heck, Jerry [Rice] never touched that. A.J. Green certainly isn't touching that. Brown's footwork and route-running is the league's best. Green might have the size and scoring edge, but Brown works the field better. If I'm a quarterback, I take that.
-- Jeremy Fowler
Weight: 207 pounds
Stats: 70 catches; 1,034 yards; 7 TDs; 14.8 yards per reception. He and Randy Moss are the only receivers in NFL history to have five straight 1,000-yard seasons to start a career.
Go-to move: The sprint-right-by-you seems to be Green’s move of choice. If the receiver is being single-covered, you’ll regularly see him try to speed past his corner before the safety recognizes he ought to provide help over the top.
Best TD celebration: Let’s put it this way: Green will not be doing any Spider Man impressions on goal posts anytime soon. Reserved by nature, the Bengals wide out is Cincinnati’s new anti-Chad Johnson. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has been messing with Green for some time about his uninspiring celebrations, goading him in front of the whole team to “please, do something. I don’t care if you just fall down on your knees and give thanks. Just something out of the ordinary.” Added Jackson recently, “That’s just not who he is.”
Nickname: A.J. (it’s short for his first and middle names: Adriel Jeremiah)
Quirky personality trait: This is well-documented, but Green is a solid juggler. He was part of a school juggling team when he was younger. That came before he realized in high school that his hand-eye coordination could make him a pretty good football player.
Why he’s the best: What makes Green the best? It’s simple, he puts points on the scoreboard. Brown does, too, of course, but Green has more career touchdowns and he’s played one less season. Green has 42 touchdowns to Brown’s 35. After all, the name of the game is scoring, right? In this tight position battle, that should be enough to give Green the edge.
-- Coley Harvey