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Bengals projected as least likely 2021 division winner to repeat

Not a huge surprise with a loaded AFC North, but the Bengals have what it takes to repeat.

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Of the eight NFL division winners from 2021, the Cincinnati Bengals are seen as the most ‘vulnerable’ to losing its crown in 2022.

When ranking the eight-division winners from 2021 from most to least vulnerable to repeat in 2022, CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin pegged the Bengals as the most vulnerable.

“It’s not that we’re down on the Bengals,” Benjamin explained. “Joe Burrow and their play-makers are the real deal, and they wisely addressed the O-line. The defense is also underrated. But they’ve got a tough schedule with an absolutely brutal finish (their final eight are against projected playoff teams), and the division is always tight. It’d be a surprise if at least two of their rivals didn’t challenge for the title; the Ravens should be much healthier, the Steelers are never losers under Mike Tomlin, and the Browns still have lots of talent.”

In fairness, the AFC North should be among the most competitive divisions in the NFL next season.

The Baltimore Ravens won eight games last year without star cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey and started the year 8-3 before former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson went down with a season-ending injury.

Cleveland swept the Bengals a year ago with a struggling and injured Baker Mayfield and, pending a potential suspension, are slated to have Deshaun Watson under center, while the Steelers, despite its struggles, found its way to the postseason last year and improved its defense during the offseason.

However, with a team that came three points short of a Super Bowl title pretty much entirely in-tact, big additions on the offensive line and early draft capital spent to address needs in the secondary, the Bengals should still be feeling good about its chances to repeat as AFC North champions.

Here’s a look at CBS Sports’ rankings from most to least vulnerable:

  1. Cincinnati Bengals (AFC North)
  2. Dallas Cowboys (NFC East)
  3. Tennessee Titans (AFC South)
  4. Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West)
  5. Los Angeles Rams (NFC West)
  6. Green Bay Packers (NFC North)
  7. Buffalo Bills (AFC East)
  8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC South)