It is anyone's guess who will take the AFC North. So for the second time in a few weeks, I am asking you to make that guess.
I posted an article with the same headline right after the Bengals had the unfortunate outing against the Cleveland Browns. The team up north had the division and looked poised to control its own destiny. This lasted all of about a week and the Bengals once again were on top of the division.
The poll in the article was fairly popular. You had the Bengals as the team with the third best shot to win the North. Cleveland, in your opinion, had a stranglehold on the crown.
The discussion in the comments was equally as spirited. Some had faith the Bengals would correct the errors and take the division:
I think we will get some of our injured players back & go on a run. I still truly think we are the best team in the AFC North. The games we lose we beat ourselves more than anything. If we just get a little consistency we will be fine & back on top. I still love this team & I will NEVER give up on them (I hate when people say they are done, sorry but it makes people sound like cry babies!)! Who Dey!
Others thought the Bengals were pretenders. They thought there was zero chance the Bengals could roll into New Orleans and top the Saints:
Ravens have the best overall team right now even after losing two top players. Steelers have no discipline on the field and a terrible team culture that shows on the field. They are going nowhere. Browns look good but can't be trusted to finish strong. Bengals are going to beat the saints? I want what you're having. Dalton turtles when it matters and the defense is average. I'm picking Ravens to win division and Browns to take wild card after Miami, buffalo, and SD falter. Steelers finish third and Bengals bring up the rear for another high draft pick, fourth place schedule, and a continued tradition of losing. Sigh.
I don't mean to pick on anyone, I understand the sentiment. After all that Cleveland game was a tough pill to swallow.
At the time, the results were spot on. The Bengals were a badly injured team and they were embarrassed by the perennial punching bag of the division. The outlook is a little different now, but it is still anyone's game. Fast forward two weeks and I would venture to guess the same poll is going to show different results.
Baltimore plays tonight to try and keep pace with the others in the North. The Browns tried their best to give the game away to Atlanta and the Steelers were on a bye. Much of the standings will be decided with the Bengals 3 remaining division games. Two against the Steelers and what I hope is bitter revenge against the Browns.
So call it now and we will compare to what we thought two weeks ago. Who knows, in another couple weeks we may be posing the same questions about a division race that may be the tightest in history.