NASHVILLE -- Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the excitement. I cover sports, after all, and while sports reporters have a reputation for being jaded and immune to the emotions of the events they chronicle, I think a lot of that is overblown.
I was covering the Cincinnati Bengals-Tennessee Titans game on Sunday, for example, and while it wasn't the highest-scoring game you'll ever see, it was a nail-biter. Two AFC heavyweights in a physical fight that came down to Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins making a big fourth-quarter play, and the Bengals' defense doing just enough to contain Derrick Henry. It was a worthy rematch of their January playoff game, and it was the kind of game that makes you hope they play each other in the postseason again this year.
"That's the kind of game," said Burrow, the Bengals' brash, young quarterback, "that great teams win."
The Bengals believe they can be great. They've won seven of their past nine, and thanks to the Jacksonville Jaguars' upset of the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, they're tied for first place in the division they won last year.
The Titans ... well, they know they're going to be all right. They still have a comfy lead in their division, and it's not as if they got blown out or embarrassed. They have their issues. They need to score more points. But Mike Vrabel's bunch finds a way, and it's fair to expect Tennessee to be in the playoff picture in the AFC all year. This win meant more to the Bengals than the loss did to the Titans.
But it was fun watching two playoff-caliber teams duke it out three days before the start of December, and it reminded me of what's coming. The games from here take on a little bit more meaning, a lot more intensity, and come with enough emotions to make the weekly overreactions column a little more fun.