View Full Version : Bengals, Browns could alter AFC North power structure

10-19-2011, 03:03 PM
Future holds hope for Bengals, Browns

Originally Published: October 19, 2011
By John Clayton - ESPN.com

Armed with high draft picks, perennial doormats could alter AFC North power structure

The Bengals and Browns have played bridesmaids to the Steelers and Ravens for an eternity.

Since 1991, the Browns have had only three winnings seasons, the Bengals two. Things were so bad in Cleveland, the city lost its original team to Baltimore.

Tuesday's surprising Carson Palmer trade offers hope that the futures of both franchises might be changing.

In exchange for Palmer, the Bengals picked up a 2012 first-round pick and a second-rounder in 2013 that could become a first-rounder if the Raiders reach the AFC title game in either of the next two seasons. The Browns received five draft picks, including a first- and fourth-rounder in 2012, from the Falcons in the Julio Jones draft-day deal in April. The potential of five first-round picks going to these franchises in 2012 and 2013 offers hope that two or three years down the line, the power structure within the AFC North might change.

The rosters in Pittsburgh and Baltimore are getting older. The Steelers have eight defensive starters in their 30s. The Ravens' Ray Lewis and Ed Reed can't play forever, can they?

How the Bengals and Browns handle the next two drafts will determine the timetable for them to be on an even playing field with the Steelers and Ravens. The first order of business is seeing how quarterbacks Andy Dalton (Bengals) and Colt McCoy (Browns) stack up against Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers and Joe Flacco of the Ravens.

If Dalton and McCoy are good enough to compete, then those picks can be used to add playmakers around the quarterbacks. The Bengals have the edge over the Browns in that regard. Wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham are exceptional young playmakers. The Bengals also hold a slight edge on defense, ranking second in yards allowed (278.5) under coordinator Mike Zimmer. The Browns, who switched to a 4-3, rank seventh (321.8 yards allowed).

There are some around the league who believe Dalton might become a star. For a rookie, he's exceptional managing the game and is completing 62.4 percent of his passes. McCoy has struggled in his second year and is completing only 55.8 percent this season.

The key is whether both have the arm strength to survive in November and December games in the open-air conditions of the four AFC North cities. The Steelers and Ravens thrive in those elements because Roethlisberger and Flacco can throw successfully in wind, rain and blustery conditions. To win in the AFC North, quarterbacks have to hit the sideline throws and fire deep completions.

But if the Bengals and Browns find out their quarterbacks are better suited for indoor stadiums, they still have the draft choice clout to find other solutions. Regardless, there has to be optimism about the futures of the Browns and Bengals.

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10-19-2011, 04:37 PM
Bungholes have a great chance to draft some great young players with 4 1st Rd players in 2 years....but I trust Mike Brown to screw Bungholes again.. :wink:

Dee Dub
10-19-2011, 04:40 PM
But if the same people (like Mike Brown), keep running those organizations, why would we expect anything more than what they have given the past 25 years?

They have had a ton of high draft picks for a long time now...and what do they do? Not much.

10-19-2011, 06:00 PM
AFC North Round Up: Steelers and Bengals Improve to 4-2, Still Trail Ravens After Week 6

by Michael Bean on Oct 17, 2011


Let's take a quick tour around the AFC North to see how the Pittsburgh Steelers and their divisional rivals fared this past Sunday. Also, sorry for the slow days recently. Been traveling since Friday. Hopefully we'll get things cranked back up this week leading up to Week 7.

AFC North Standings (through Week 6)

Team Record Div. Record Conf. Record Streak Scoring Differential

Baltimore Ravens 4-1 1-0 3-1 Won 3 +77
Cincinnati Bengals 4-2 1-0 4-1 Won 3 +26
Pittsburgh Steelers 4-2 0-1 3-2 Won 2 +17
Cleveland Browns 2-3 0-1 2-3 Lost 2 -26

Baltimore Ravens

Week 6 Result: 29-14 W over Houston Texans

How they did it:: The Ravens continue to suffocate the opposition in a variety of ways. On Sunday against the Texans, fresh off their bye week, the Ravens defense held Matt Schaub to 220 yards passing on 37 attempts, and limited Arian Foster to a mere 49 yards in 15 carries. Offensively, Joe Flacco threw for over 300 yards, 132 of which went to Anquan Boldin. Ray Rice continues to be one of the league's most versatile and productive players when healthy (101 yards rushing, 61 yards receiving). The scary thing for opponents is that Baltimore still has room to improve. The Ravens left points on the board Sunday, relying on five Billy Cundiff field goals to get past Houston.

Record: 4-1

Next Two Weeks: at Jacksonville Jaguards, vs. Arizona Cardinals

Cincinnati Bengals

Week 4 Result: 27-17 W over Indianapolis Colts

How they did it: After blowing leads in Weeks 2 and 3, the Bengals have rattled off three straight wins to improve to 4-2. Their latest win was over the winless Indianapolis Colts in a game that was closer than the final score suggested. The Colts were lined up for a game-tying field goal, only to have it blocked. After the Bengals missed a FG of their own, Pierre Garcon was stripped fighting for extra yardage, and Carlos Dunlap recovered it and returned it 20 yards for the clinching touchdown. The Bengals won the turnover battle +3 and rode Andy Dalton's accurate afternoon (25-of-32, 264 yards, 1 TD) for the win.

Record: 4-2

Next Two Weeks: Bye Week, @ Seattle

Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 6 Result: 17-13 W vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

How they did it: The Steelers were raced out to a 17 point first half behind a potent blend of offense and defense. Rashard Mendenhall rushed for over 100 yards and a touchdown in the first 30 minutes, while Ben Roethlisberger connected on 11 of his 12 total completions for the afternoon, highlighted by his 28-yard touchdown connection with Mike Wallace. The Steelers played sloppily in the second half, but staved off the Jaguars comeback eventually to improve to 4-1.

Record: 4-2

Next Two Weeks: at Arizona Cardinals, vs. New England Patriots

Cleveland Browns

Week 4 Result: 24-17 L at Oakland Raiders

How they did it: The Browns can't run the football this year in Pat Shurmur's new West Coast offense, and the consequence has been that the Browns have had to ask Colt McCoy to do too much in his second year. McCoy has done just fine -- he threw for 215 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs on Sunday -- but asking him to throw the ball 40+ times a game is not the right recipe for success. The real culprit though in Cleveland's second consecutive loss was the play of the special teams. Jacoby Ford took a kickoff return 101 yards to the house, and the Raiders added another 7 points on a fake punt pass from Shane Lechler to Kevin Boss.

Record: 2-3

Next Two Weeks: vs. Seattle Seahawks, at San Francisco 49ers

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