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CINCINNATI- The Bengals fought hard this year to earn their place as the current division leader. The AFC North is the strongest division in football as the Baltimore Ravens are in last place with a 5-4 record. Against all odds, mainly the Cleveland Browns and their low expectations, the entire AFC North has a winning percentage over .500. Tonight, the two offensive juggernauts clash on NFL Network for primetime glory and division supremacy.
The challenger, Cleveland, shattered the expectations so far. The Browns won two straight, four of their last five games and did more than survive the season ending injury of Alex Mack as well as the suspension of Josh Gordon. The browns flourished in spite of all the adversity running against them. The temporary loss of Jordan Cameron didn’t impact the Browns all that much. They are more explosive with Cameron on the field but even so other players are making their mark by providing the necessary spark to light a fire.
Things will get heated as Bengals wide receiver, Greg Little, said some feisty words about the Browns earlier this week. Little is upset about the Browns releasing him.
Little said Browns Head Coach Pettine didn’t talk to the players at all. Perhaps one could argue the Browns did Little a favor.
The biggest storyline tonight involves the AFC Playoff Race as the Browns stand a chance to get the upset and take over the first place spot in the AFC North.
Assuming Cleveland wins, the Browns will also temporarily take the 3rd seed in the AFC Playoffs. The Browns receiving core Miles Austin, Travis Benjamin, Andrew Hawkins, and Taylor Gabriel stepped up this season. Brian Hoyer threw only 4 interceptions.
The Browns will need to generate a stronger running game to increase their chance of winning.
Current AFC Playoff Picture
1. New England Patriots 7-2
2. Denver Broncos 6-2
3. Cincinnati Bengals 5-2-1
4. Indianapolis Colts 6-3
5. Pittsburgh Steelers 6-3
6. Kansas City Chiefs 5-3
In the hunt
7. Cleveland Browns 5-3
8. Buffalo 5-3
9. Miami 5-3
10. San Diego 5-4
11. Baltimore 5-4
For his daughter
Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still has motivation to perform admirably tonight. His daughter is facing stage 4 cancer, fighting for her life. She will be in attendance. The Bengals hosted a tea party with Still’s daughter Leah.