Bengals News

Cincinnati Bengals: 4 surprises in the AFC North

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CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 23: C.J. Uzomah #87 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 23, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 23: C.J. Uzomah #87 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 23, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – OCTOBER 28: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns walks off the field after being defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers 33-18 at Heinz Field on October 28, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – OCTOBER 28: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns walks off the field after being defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers 33-18 at Heinz Field on October 28, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

So, the question heading into 2019 is whether the Cleveland Browns are the best team in the AFC North. Another question is whether Baker Mayfield takes that next step towards being a franchise-type quarterback.

That’s a big question. Mayfield, who is as arrogant as he may be talented, won’t get a ”sophomore slump” pass if he goes belly up in Cleveland. In fact, he would only be fulfilling the pre-conceived destiny of many in the sports media.

The other looming factor is a wide receiver and career headcase in Odell Beckham Jr. OBJ and Mayfield could provide the kind of combustion that is potentially amazing, or disastrous. Both have oversized egos, are remarkably talented, and could prove to be franchise changers.

It could also all blow up on the launchpad.

Like the Bengals, they have a schedule that won’t offer any favors. Home games with the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks, as well as a huge road test against the New England Patriots, will likely serve as measuring stick type games showing how good the Browns may, or may not be.

I’ll be the first to say they were better than the 7-8-1 record they posted for 2018. They will need a big season from OBJ to improve on that. Problem is, he doesn’t stay healthy, and that hurts Mayfield and the Browns.

Cleveland is good. If they can hold it together and not implode, they could be great. Just not this year.

Brown finish 8-8.

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