The Cincinnati Bengals started the 2023 NFL season the same way they started the 2022 season by losing their first two games on the schedule.
Unfortunately, unlike last season, both of the first two games in 2023 were against division opponents. First, they lost to the Cleveland Browns, and then, even though they played better, they were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens.
As things stand now, the Ravens are 2-0, the Browns and Steelers are both 1-1, and the Bengals are 0-2. According to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, the Bengals now have the lowest odds of the four teams to win the division this season via ESPN Analytics.
The Ravens are alone atop the AFC North, and according to ESPN Analytics, Baltimore is in the driver's seat in the division.— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) September 19, 2023
Here are the projections to win AFC North:
Ravens (2-0): 72%
Browns (1-1): 13.4%
Bengals (0-2): 6.8%
Steelers (1-1): 7.8%
Obviously, it’s early. The Bengals started the 2022 season 0-2, and they lost their first two games in the division, and they still won the AFC North and were defeated by a last-second field goal in the AFC Championship.
If quarterback Joe Burrow were completely healthy, I’d say there’s nothing to be worried about; he did it before, and he can do it again.
Unfortunately, we don’t really know if he’s healthy or not.
No team has ever won the AFC North three times in a row, which is pretty amazing if you really think about it, considering the stranglehold the Steelers and Ravens have had over the division for years.
The Bengals were on a very short list of contenders heading into the season, and many talking heads have bailed on them already. They obviously have very short memories.
If you notice, 6.8 percent is higher than zero percent.
If Burrow doesn’t have to miss time, and if he and the offense get back in a groove, I’ll take 6.8 percent with a healthy Burrow over the other three all day, every day.