Following the Bengals statement fall from first place in the AFC North, it's necessary to reassess the status of the team, but it's also crucial that we take another look at how we stand in the AFC North. Although the Bengals have held the steering wheel for much of the first half of the season, they find themselves in a new position – one that could see them in the backseat for a while. In fact, this article is how I'll explain why the Bengals will end up being there come season's end.
I say that for a few reasons. We may have a 2-0 record over the Baltimore Ravens, and we may still have three out of four of our division games against the other teams left. Plenty of time to come back, right? That's all fine and dandy, except that the state of this team screams the inability to do anything when they're not looking in the rear-view mirror. The lack of performance when in the face of adversity has become downright disturbing, especially when it's even worse on the national stage.
And then look at the Pittsburgh Steelers, a.k.a the team that started in a hole, including a bad loss to the Browns, before mustering up what motivation they could and winning three straight games in extremely convincing fashion. Ben Roethlisberger looks the best he has ever looked, having thrown 12 touchdowns in his last two games. Bell is one of the best running backs in the league this year, and finally, the front line is actually starting to generate a pass rush, something the Steelers had been missing for quite some time (when they don't play the Bengals).
All of that has the Steelers looking, honestly-speaking, downright scary. We all know about the lack of success that the Bengals tend to have against the Steelers. Furthermore, any success that we have actually attained against them has come largely in the form of a strong defensive outing. That is something we don't seem to have the capability of showcasing right now.
Combine that with that fact that the Bengals have a more difficult schedule down the stretch and suddenly, the Bengals are looking at the potential of not only losing out on repeating as AFC North champs, but also a Wildcard when you consider how competitive the conference is right now.
Not counting the coming Sunday, Cincinnati dropped from first to third in the division with a single loss. The result of the season may depend on how they react to the very thing that happened to the Steelers earlier on – a blowout at the hands of Cleveland.