We all know how difficult the AFC North is and the Cincinnati Bengals haven’t been able to get themselves out of the divisional basement in recent years. Unfortunately, this year might not be any different for the Bengals even with the Steelers not being the same team they were last year.
Sports Illustrated released their list of the 12 teams most likely to win the Super Bowl this year and two teams from the AFC North appeared on the list. Obviously, it’s not the Bengals or Steelers, which leaves the Browns and Ravens. No one is surprised by this.
The Browns were No. 3 on the list while the Ravens were at No. 10, which seems low for them even with their recent playoff woes.
It’s still weird that the Cleveland Browns are considered to be a Super Bowl contender by many but after they made the playoffs for the first time in quite some time last year and won a playoff game, it’s understandable why that fanbase is excited for what the 2021 season has in store.
The Bengals played the Browns hard in both of their meetings last year and each of those games came down to the wire. They were fun to watch and while the Browns did improve mightily this offseason, the Bengals can hopefully go blow-for-blow with them on offense. The run defense hasn’t improved much, at least not on paper, and that could be the deciding factor.
As for the Ravens, it was clear how far ahead of the Bengals they were in both of their games last year. Neither game was close and the Ravens only got better this offseason. Hopefully, Cincinnati can at least close the gap and make those games more competitive this year.
The Cincinnati Bengals have their work cut out for them in the AFC North.
By now, Bengals fans are used to hearing about how tough the division is and how it’ll be an uphill battle for them to make any kind of noise in the AFC North. No one realistically expects Cincinnati to win the AFC North but it’s absolutely possible for them to not finish last in the division this year, especially if the Steelers pick up from their lackluster final half of the 2020 season.
Seeing the Bengals compete against the Browns in both matchups last year is promising but the team is definitely going to have to improve when facing Baltimore because neither of those games were even remotely close. It won’t be easy for the Cincinnati Bengals to make a dent in the AFC North but unfortunately, they’re in one of the toughest divisions and now they have to try to make the most of it.
Two Super Bowl contenders making up four games of the 17-game schedule isn’t exactly a good time but we’ll see just how far the Bengals have progressed when facing those teams. If they put up a good fight, the future could look bright. If the games result in blowout losses, then… Well, the Bengals will still have work to do moving forward.