The new leader of the AFC North is the Cincinnati Bengals (6-3).
Here are five things to know about the 2013 Bengals:
1. Big-time injuries
The Bengals suffered a huge loss last week when Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins tore his ACL, knocking him out for the rest of the year. He can be a dominating force inside, and a strong pass rusher. Top cornerback Leon Hall tore his Achilles two weeks ago and is also done for the year. Cincinnati inside linebacker Rey Maualuga (their second-leading tackler) will also likely be out with a sprained knee.
2. Andy Dalton continues to progress
After throwing five touchdowns against the New York Jets, Andy Dalton was touted as the best quarterback in the AFC North – ahead of
3. They’ve got their own
Rookie running back Giovani Bernard may be the Bengals’ best-kept secret. He’s still listed as the backup to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but Bernard is the one to be worried about. Bernard is averaging 4.5 yards per carry and has four touchdowns. For proof of how electric the second-round pick is, check out his weaving 35-yard touchdown run in Miami. The North Carolina product is built very similar to the Ravens’ Ray Rice; he’s an inch taller and four pounds lighter, with similar burst.
4. A complement to A.J. Green
Everybody knows about the Bengals’ beastly third-year wide receiver A.J. Green. But now he may finally have a complementing piece on the other side. Marvin Jones was a fifth-round draft choice in 2012 out of California. He exploded onto the scene in Week 8 when he caught four touchdown passes against the New York Jets. The 6-foot-2 speedster has 28 catches for 435 yards on the year.
5. A familiar tackling machine
Ravens fans who pay attention to the draft may remember this name: Vontaze Burfict. The inside linebacker was at one time projected by many draftniks to be Ray Lewis’ heir in Baltimore. But with a resume full of red flags coming out of Arizona State, Burfict slid all the way from a first-round prospect to undrafted. The Bengals took a chance on him and it has paid huge dividends. Burfict is tied with Dallas’ Sean Lee with the most tackles in the NFL (90).