3 reasons why the Bengals will win the AFC North (and 2 why they won't)

  • Hot streak
  • Healthy Burrow
  • Lou the wiz
  • Pesky birds
  • 1-3 start
Buffalo Bills v Cincinnati Bengals
Buffalo Bills v Cincinnati Bengals / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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Why they won't - Dragged down by a slow start and a bad calf

While the Bengals were able to persevere after a rough beginning to the 2022 season to win the division, that doesn't mean they'll be so lucky this year. Their first two losses this season came to divisional opponents, which already sets them back in case of a tiebreaker-- like now for example-- and this slow start paired with the fact that the AFC North looks even more competitive than it has the last couple of years doesn't leave much room for any more mistakes.

In fact, another loss in the division-- especially if it's to Baltimore-- might be enough to slam the door shut on their chances at taking home the division crown. As it stands, Cincinnati is not in control of its destiny and will need everyone in the division to lose a few games for them to move up the ranks of the AFC North. That being said, there are still nine weeks of regular season football left which means that a loss for the Browns, Steelers, and Ravens is nearly inevitable.

Still, while the slow start didn't end up coming back to bite them in 2022 (at least in terms of divisional rankings), it looks more plausible that it will this year. Again, there really isn't any room for error for the Bengals. One or two more losses could be what turns Cincinnati from a division winner with home-field advantage into a wild card team playing game after game on the road, while if they had won either the game against the Ravens or Browns in the first two games, they would be second or even at the top of the North.

Perhaps it's just overreaction on my part, but I feel like that 1-3 start to the season will come back to bite the Bengals when it is all said and done.