The Cincinnati Bengals entered the 2013 NFL Season as the favorites to win the AFC North, and through two weeks, they still are. Though they didn’t do much of anything to bolster their chances of winning the division this week, one team made a move that could actually help the Bengals in the long-run.
The Cleveland Browns traded away their best player, running back Trent Richardson, in hopes of rebuilding in next year’s NFL Draft, but they also set themselves up to fail miserably this year, and with a road contest against Cleveland coming next week, that matchup got a whole lot easier.
It’s easy to forget the Browns handled the Bengals in Cleveland last year, holding as big as a 17-point lead in the fourth-quarter, and most would agree this year’s team was much-improved from then. But with no Richardson and an ailing Brandon Weeden, this game goes from being a toss-up to being one the Bengals have no business of losing.
And with the Green Bay Packers coming to town looking like they’ll once again contend for a Super Bowl title, it’s very easy to see the Bengals traveling to Cleveland with a 1-2 record and needing a win in the worst way with the New England Patriots waiting in the wings the following week.
Since Tom Brady became the Pats’ starting QB, Cincinnati has never defeated them. So assuming the Bengals can at least win Round 1 of the Battle of Ohio, they shouldn’t be looking at anything worse than a 2-3 record after five games before hitting a much easier stretch of games against the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions and New York Jets.