AFC North: 2016 Season Preview

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Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jun 14, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A view of the Cincinnati Bengals as they huddle during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A view of the Cincinnati Bengals as they huddle during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals were the AFC North Champions last season. After an abrupt end to their 2015-16 season, thanks to the wildest Wild Card game in NFL history, it left them wanting more. The Bengals will have a tough division schedule and also face off against the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, it could be a season to remember or forget.

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The Bengals, who were missing Andy Dalton for the final four games of the season, will get their franchise quarterback under center again. They will also get a healthy and newly extended running back Giovani Bernard back, after a vicious and borderline, now illegal, hit to the head by Steelers linebacker, Ryan Shazier.

However, the Bengals will be missing Vontaze Burfict for the first four games of the year, including one against the Steelers. He was suspended after his hit on Antonio Brown, which knocked Brown out cold. The Bengals have proven focused and haven’t let words from the Steelers distract them. The Bengals have overcome missing Burfict in 2015, when they went 6-0 without him.

The Bengals will need to steal a couple of tough games if they want to repeat as AFC North Champs. It means games like New England, Houston, Denver, and Pittsburgh, could become key wins, if they can overcome the obstacles that stand in their way.

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Any way you stack this division in 2016, there are four teams with a legitimate shot at winning the AFC North crown. The Bengals, Steelers, and Raven will all make noise, but in the end, the last team standing will be the loudest.

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