First of all, I am not a gambling addict. It may seem like I am because I'm always writing about betting odds but I've only been to a casino about three dozen times in the past two months. I don't think that qualifies me at all as being a gambling addict. You do? Wanna bet?
Anyway, Mike Wilkening, of profootballweekly.com, mentions that a few sports betting sites think that Baltimore has the best shot to win the AFC North. Certainly, the Bengals have to have to second best odds to win the division, right? Oh look, there's another page to this post.....
That's a big fat negative. Are you really surprised? I'm not. The Bengals could win the Super Bowl in 2010, go overseas and win the war by themselves, solve the global warming problem, save a bunch of whales, find a way to make bacon good for you, save the rain forests and cook you dinner and the "experts" still wouldn't show the Bengals love. What do have to do here in the Queen City to get some respect?
Mr. Wilkening isn't so sure that the experts are really experts though.
The Bengals swept the AFC North last season, and though that is unlikely to happen again, there is no reason the Bengals can't hold serve at home vs. Baltimore and Pittsburgh and aim to win both games against Cleveland. A 4-2 division mark would be an accomplishment and perhaps the decisive factor in what figures to be a contentious battle for the North title. Note that half of the NFL's eight division winners in 2009 had precisely 4-2 records vs. divisional opponents.
Well 4-2 doesn't sound too tough. I feel like the Bengals could easily take one of the two from the Steelers and one of two from the Ravens too. If they can do that, the only way for them to not make the playoffs as a division winner would be to lose all of their other games or for Baltimore to win every other game than the one they lose against the Bengals and if the second scenario would happen to play out (it won't) then the Bengals would likely grab a wild card spot.
We're getting way ahead of ourselves here. We're not even to training camp yet and I'm already considering play off scenarios. Crazy right? Maybe not.......
Cincinnati has improved its passing game, perhaps significantly if WR Antonio Bryant plays like he did two seasons ago and rookie TE Jermaine Gresham is ready to be a 40- to 50-catch target right off the bat. The defense, the team's strength in 2009, has improved its depth and could be poised for another stellar season under the leadership of coordinator Mike Zimmer.
Couldn't have said it better myself. Wait, yes I could have.