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Around the AFC North: Bengals Take Division Lead With Tough Schedule Ahead

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) tries to break a tackle attempt by Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis III (24) during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) tries to break a tackle attempt by Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis III (24) during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.

Cincinnati Bengals: Six-Game Winning Streak Has Bengals in First Place

With three games remaining, the Bengals (10-4) have taken a one-game lead in the AFC North but have a difficult schedule remaining.

Cincinnati is the AFC's hottest team, riding a six-game winning streak after a come-from-behind 34-23 victory over Tampa Bay in Week 15. After falling behind 17-0, the Bengals rattled off 27 unanswered points.

However, the Bengals haven't clinched a playoff spot and face a challenging three-game stretch to close the season. They visit the Patriots (7-7) on Saturday night in Week 16, then finish the season at home against the Bills (11-3) and Ravens (9-5) respectively. 

Quarterback Joe Burrow says the Bengals won't take their foot off the gas.

"Still gotta win all the games," Burrow said via "It's going to come down to that last one. Still gotta take care of business here in the next couple of weeks. We've got a short week this week. Gotta go to New England on a Saturday so we gotta get our bodies right and get the work in [that] we need in a short amount of time."

The Bengals started the season 0-2, and star receiver Ja'Marr Chase missed four games with a hip injury before he returned in Week 13. However, the Bengals showed their resiliency again against Tampa Bay after falling behind. Cincinnati dominated the second half as Brady threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles.

Head Coach Zac Taylor believes the Bengals' ability to handle adversity will serve them well down the stretch.

"You know, we're going to play good teams from here on out," Taylor said. "There's going to be times that things just don't go your way. No need to panic…just take a deep breath and step up. I saw that from everybody."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mitch Trubisky Bounces Back After Throwing Three Picks vs. Ravens

The Steelers (6-8) still have a chance to avoid their first losing season under Head Coach Mike Tomlin following Sunday's 24-16 victory in Carolina. Mitch Trubisky (17 for 22, 179 yards) was one of the bright spots for Pittsburgh, playing mistake-free football after throwing three interceptions against the Ravens in Week 14.

Trubisky started in place of Kenny Pickett (concussion), who is still being groomed as the Steelers' quarterback of the future. While Trubisky lost his starting job early this season and was disappointed by that decision, he still believes in his abilities as a starting quarterback.

"I know what I can do in this league," Trubisky said via "It feels good to be able to get this opportunity and come through, have my teammates trust in me. We just had a plan and we executed it. Any time you're part of a team, it's always better when you win."

Trubisky had nice chemistry with wide receiver Diontae Johnson, who had a season-high 10 catches for 98 yards on 10 targets.

"I was going to Diontae and he was winning," Trubisky said. "He was locked in all week. He was getting open all day."

Cleveland Browns: Deshaun Watson Shakes Off More Rust Each Game

During Cleveland's 13-3 victory over the Ravens, Deshaun Watson had his best game since returning from his 11-game suspension (18 for 28, 121 yards) and got his first win as Cleveland's quarterback. Both Watson and Head Coach Kevin Stefanski see Watson's comfort level growing.

"He was seeing [the field] very clearly," Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said via Ben Baby of "I thought he was very poised and making good decisions. There are always plays that I know he can be better, I can be better, we can design better plays and all of those type of things, but I know I continue to see a guy who is just getting better and better."

Watson struggled in his first two games with Cleveland after his suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. The Browns (6-8) haven't had the season they hoped for, but Watson plans to get even more in sync with his teammates over the last three games.

"Football is coming back each and every week," Watson said. "I don't need to come in and try to do anything special. If we just come in and I just do my job as a quarterback, then everything is going to come in place."

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