Cincinnati Bengals lead over the AFC North increases to 2.5 games (again)

Andy Lyons

The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Browns and the Chicago Bears beat the Baltimore Ravens, giving Cincinnati a 2.5-game lead over the entire division.

Cincinnati's 41-20 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday was a nice response after the Bengals suffered the unexpected 17-6 meltdown against the same team earlier this year in Cleveland. Further compounding the downward spiral into depression was Cleveland's recent run and Baltimore's win over the Bengals that closed Cincinnati's lead over the division.

Sunday proved to be a winner for the Bengals. The win over the Browns put Cincinnati back at .500 against the division (and thus breaking the first tie-breaker against the Browns in head-to-head), but the resulting Chicago Bears overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens expanded Cincinnati's lead in the standings.

When Sundays "early afternoon" games concluded, the Bengals lead over the division extended to 2.5 games over... well, everyone. The Steelers beat the Lions 37-27 to mirror the records of Cleveland and Baltimore.

Cincinnati will have a bye week next week.

Week 12 Schedule:

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati will lose the half-game lead next week. No matter what happens, either the Steelers or Browns will win (they play each other) with the losing team falling three games back with five games remaining on the season. The Bengals still have a game in Pittsburgh (week 15) and at home against the Ravens (week 17). Additionally the Bengals can't improve their No. 4 seed, despite the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, and New England Patriots having games remaining this week.

AFC NORTH STANDINGS WINS LOSSES PCT GB
Cincinnati Bengals 7 4 .636 --
Baltimore Ravens 4 6 .400 2.5
Cleveland Browns 4 6 .400 2.5
Pittsburgh Steelers 4 6 .400 2.5
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