AFC North round-up: Odds for Baltimore Ravens, others to win division
2019 record: 2-14
Key losses: QB Andy Dalton, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, CB Darqueze Dennard
Key additions: QB Joe Burrow, WR Tee Higgins, CB Trae Waynes, CB Mackensie Alexander, S Vonn Bell, DT D.J. Reader
The Cincinnati Bengals are by far the most improved team in the AFC North this offseason. While the bar was certainly set low after winning just two games in 2019, the Bengals look like an at least competitive squad for 2020.
It all starts with 2020 NFL Draft number one overall pick Joe Burrow. Burrow had one of the greatest college football history, throwing a college record 5,671-yards and 60 touchdown passes en route to a Heisman Trophy and CFP National Championship win. Burrow looks the part of a franchise quarterback, and Cincinnati certainly hopes he can be just that.
Additionally, the Bengals defense looks much better than it did a year ago, particularly in the secondary. Cincinnati moved on from mediocre starters Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqeuze Dennard and added quality guys in Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander to replace them. Vonn Bell will also team up nicely with Jesse Bates to round out a solid looking secondary.
On paper, these Cincinnati Bengals could surprise people and compete for a .500 record. Unfortunately for them, they play in the AFC North. The AFC North has three other teams who will look to make the playoffs in 2020. The Baltimore Ravens are bad enough already, but the Bengals could go winless in the division against the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.
While the Bengals are much better entering 2020, they’re simply much further behind their AFC North rivals to compete for the division crown.
Verdict: It’ll take a miracle