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NFL Defensive Rankings: Bengals Back on Top; Rest of AFC North Right Behind

With the bye week came few updates regarding the players and the team. Fans had to sit idly by while watching the rest of the AFC North play, hoping that they all lose so that the Bengals gain ground in the division. It's usually the Monday following a bye week that we all get excited as the new Bengals updates hit the news wire and the team gets back to work.

Most people who follow the NFL and the AFC North division in particular, know that it is a division that is usually won by a team with a great defense first and foremost, followed by competent quarterback play and then the ability to run the football after that. The Ravens and Steelers have laid out this blueprint of success in this bruising division, and the Bengals have followed suit over the last few years which has led to more parity amongst the teams.

Well, today, Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweeted about the NFL's current defensive rankings.

According the NFL, the Bengals once again have the top spot in the NFL, as far as defense and total yards allowed per game. What's even more impressive is that the other AFC North teams round out the top four in defensive rankings after the Bengals, furthering the point that the AFC North is a division dominated by good defenses.

The Pittsburgh Steelers rank second, followed by the Baltimore Ravens and then the Cleveland Browns. It's worth noting that this division plays a very weak NFC West and AFC South in 2011, which has helped these teams' defensive rankings. It's also worth noting that the Ravens play a weak Jacksonville team tonight on Monday Night Football, which could easily allow them to climb the rankings and possibly supplant the Steelers and/or Bengals.

The Bengals face off against the offensively-challenged Seahawks this Sunday, so hopefully they will continue their ways of defensive dominance. Regardless, it's nice to see that the Bengals reclaimed the top spot in the NFL without even playing last Sunday. That's a testimony to their perfomance in 2011 thus far.