By DJ Siddiqi @DJSiddiqi on July 9, 2014
The Cincinnati Bengals won the AFC North for the first time in four years last season. The Bengals controlled the lead for the AFC North from the beginning of the season until the very end. However, they won't have as easy of a time competing for the division title as they did last year. Here are five reasons why the Bengals won't win the AFC North in 2014.
The Cincinnati Bengals have been around since 1968, and despite being around for nearly 50 years, they still have yet to win back-to-back division titles in their franchise history. Marvin Lewis has been the head coach since 2003, and 2013's division crown marked just his third division title in his 11-season tenure with the franchise. The Bengals are not a franchise that exudes consistency.
While some may disagree with this slide, it's true - the Bengals don't have a true No. 2 receiver. Marvin Jones is a solid receiver, but he is not a true No. 2. He did have 10 touchdowns in 2013, but four of those came in one game. His eight-reception, 122-yard, four-touchdown effort versus the New York Jets was his one great game of 2013. Teams only gameplan for A.J. Green, and that's the reason why Green gets shut down in pivotal games.
One of the biggest criticisms of the Bengals over the years has been their lack of mental toughness. The Bengals have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for three-consecutive seasons. They are just the sixth team since the Super Bowl era to hold that dubious feat. The Bengals don't win big games, and they got lucky last season when both the Ravens and Steelers struggled through injuries and early-season struggles.
The Pittsburgh Steelers started out 2013 with a 0-4 record, but finished the season on a 6-2 stretch. Their two losses in that stretch were by a combined eight points. The AFC North has been dominated by the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens since the division was created in 2002. Both teams have won the division nine out of a possible 12 seasons. The Bengals won't have the benefit of Pittsburgh struggling early on in the season in 2014.
Andy Dalton has his good moments and he has his bad moments. His good moments include the fact that he's led the Bengals to three-consecutive playoff appearances in his first three seasons in the league. He also ranked third in the NFL in touchdown passes last season. However, his bad moments outweigh his good moments. He's 0-3 in his career in the postseason, 8-10 in division games and threw the fifth-most interceptions last year (20).
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