Somebody has to win the AFC North so why not the Bengals?

Leigh Oleszczak
Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Entering the 2021 season, it wasn’t farfetched whatsoever to think that the AFC North would be the toughest division in all of football, only rivaled by maybe the NFC West. With the Cincinnati Bengals improving, there wasn’t a layup in the division as there had been the past few years, making it more difficult to compete in the gauntlet that was supposed to be the AFC West.

Well, nearly 14 weeks into the regular season and there’s no clear frontrunner to win the division. We might have expected it to be close but all four AFC North teams have been underwhelming, to say the least.

As of now, WynnBET gave the Bengals the second-worst odds to win the AFC North but not by much. The Baltimore Ravens have +160 odds to be AFC North champs while the Cleveland Browns aren’t far behind with +185 and the Bengals sit at +275. The Pittsburgh Steelers are in last by a wide margin with +1300 odds.

The Cincinnati Bengals can absolutely still win the AFC North.

Let’s break down each team and what awaits them between now and the end of the season.

The Ravens, the betting favorite to be donning the division champs hats and t-shirts by season’s end, have been plagued by injuries all season yet they’ve continued to win games in spite of that. They’re 8-5 right now, one game ahead of the Bengals who hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over them.

Baltimore has a brutal schedule in the final four weeks, facing the Packers, Bengals, Rams, and Steelers to close out the season. Doing so without the likes of Marlon Humphrey and now potentially Lamar Jackson might be too tall of a task for the Ravens.

Cleveland holds the head-to-head over Cincinnati for the week 9 win and they’re in a much better spot than they were a week ago after knocking off Baltimore. The win vaulted the Browns to second place in the division but as they enter a Saturday game with the Raiders, they’ve been hit with positive COVID-19 tests. Not ideal.

Cincinnati is in the best spot moving forward but they can’t get out of their own way. They should have won the past two weeks but made stupid mistakes that veteran teams don’t make. This team has the ability to beat anyone but they’re also so streaky that they have the ability to lose to anyone. It’s not a great gift to have, especially with such a brutal remaining schedule.

Pittsburgh is falling out of the division sweepstakes but they did take down the Browns and Ravens this season so they’re helping the Bengals out in that department. I guess they’re good for something, huh?

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These odds might have the Bengals as the team with second-worst odds to win the division but when looking at how close their odds are to Baltimore’s, it really does put things into perspective.

The AFC North is truly anyone’s to win at this point.