NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 06: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals gives instructions to his team during the NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on November 6, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Bengals won 24-17. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
ESPN's analyst John Clayton has posted up his midseason award winners and graded all 32 teams on how they have performed so far this season. For his midseason awards they were the generic answers many would expect, offensive rookie of the year goes to Cam Newton and the league MVP was given to Aaron Rodgers. The team grades are the most interesting point of his article, in it he gives four teams a grade of an F, six of them D's, nine C's, seven B's and five A's. Not that it should be much of a surprise, but the AFC North was given the best grades out of any other division in the AFC.
Here are the grades that Clayton gave to the teams in the division.
Considering how the season has played out thus far for Ravens, Steelers and Browns, little argument can be made against these grades. The Ravens have swept the Steelers which in this division can make or break a teams chances for a playoff appearance. The Steelers being on the receiving end of said sweep makes the case of why they would be lower then the Ravens, who outside the two losses to Baltimore have had a very solid season. The Browns of course are the Browns, doing their usual with the Cleveland curse and whatnot. (And a Madden Curse as well)
Clayton gives the Bengals an A, which considering they've only lost two games by only seven combined points, is a fair grade. When looking at preseason expectations, the team has already tied or exceeded the amount of wins many predicted them to have this year. The Bengals also seem to be learning from their mistakes where they once were on a 0-2 slide they have came back to win five games in a row. Considering the defense is performing at a top five level, it's hard to say they could realistically perform any better.
The Bengals grade is a surprise considering that it was just a few months ago Clayton wrote an article ranking the quarterbacks of the league that had a URL saying "from-tom-brady-andy-dalton-espn-john-clayton-ranks-nfl-starting-qbs". Out of 32 teams, Clayton ranked Bengals signal caller Andy Dalton the 33rd best quarterback in the league. One would assume that after the Bengals early success with Dalton at the helm, Clayton might be having to eat crow at some point.
It's only the midseason grades, so there's another half of a season left to play. Hopefully this young team can keep up the momentum going into the rough part of the schedule.
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