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Around the AFC North: Joe Burrow, Bengals React to Loss in AFC Title Game 

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) runs with the ball as he is sacked by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark (55) during the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) runs with the ball as he is sacked by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark (55) during the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo.

Cincinnati Bengals: After Loss That 'Hurts*,*' Joe Burrow Vows to Bounce Back

After a bitter defeat, Joe Burrow is looking at the big picture.

The Bengals nearly reached their second straight Super Bowl before losing to the Chiefs, 23-20, in a classic AFC Championship game.

However, Cincinnati's future still looks bright. In addition to winning back-to-back AFC North titles, the Bengals have won five playoff games over the past two seasons. With a young and talented nucleus, Cincinnati will enter the 2023 season a legitimate contender for the Lombardi Trophy, and Burrow says the franchise plans to compete for championships for years to come.

"I think we have the guys in that room, going forward, that will put us in that position, along with the front office and the coaching staff," Burrow said via the team’s website. "I feel very good about the direction that we're headed in. We've been in this game for two straight years. We have won one and lost one. Obviously, this one hurts, but we will come back stronger."

Cincinnati will try to sign Burrow to a long-term deal this offseason and have prepared for that financially, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

It remains to be seen if an important change to Cincinnati's defensive staff is forthcoming. The Cardinals have requested permission to speak with Bengals Defensive Coordinator Lou Anarumo for Arizona's head coaching position, according to Peter Schrager of FOX Sports.

Meanwhile, the Bengals have some important decisions to make regarding several pending free agents.

However, most of Cincinnati's key players are under contract like wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, and defensive standouts Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard and D.J. Reader.

Burrow said recently that the Bengals' window to win a championship would remain open his entire career. Losing to the Chiefs didn't change Burrow's outlook.

"That's the great thing about the NFL, it's not like college where you only have four years, you have as many years as you want to, hopefully," Burrow said. "We will come back, have a great offseason and get better as a team."

Pittsburgh Steelers: Owner Say Keeping Offensive Coordinator Is About Maintaining Continuity

The Steelers decided to retain Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada, despite finishing 26th in the NFL in scoring and 23rd in total yards. It was Canada's third season on the job, with one year remaining on his contract. However, Steelers Owner Art Rooney II said he liked the chemistry Canada built with quarterback Kenny Pickett as the offense improved late in the season.

"A key factor in the season was having a rookie starting quarterback that stepped in about a quarter of the way through the season," Rooney said via Noah Strackbein of "And the progression of Kenny [Pickett], I think was obvious, and good to see. And hopefully, something that we'll continue to build on next year."

Rooney didn't like the idea of bringing in a new offensive coordinator to begin a relationship with Pickett from scratch.

"To kind of start over again, with a new offensive coordinator, could wind up back in the same situation, again, where the first half of the season, you're breaking in a new coordinator," Rooney said. "We just felt like there's enough there to build on that we want to continue to keep that group together."

Cleveland Browns: No First-Round Pick and Tougher Salary-Cap Position for Andrew Berry

The Browns made splash moves last offseason, but it will be a tougher challenge to improve the AFC North's last-place team this offseason.

The Browns are the only AFC North team without a first-round pick, trading it to Houston as part of the Deshaun Watson deal. Cleveland's first pick in this year's draft is in the second round (42nd overall). The Browns do have eight picks overall, however.

Watson's salary-cap hit jumps from $9.3 million last year to nearly $55 million in 2023 and the next three years beyond. That leaves the Browns currently nearly $14 million over the salary cap, per Spotrac.

General Manager Andrew Berry still said the Browns can still be aggressive this offseason.

"We will have more than enough in terms of resources, picks, dollars and cap space to fortify the roster in the areas that we need to," Berry said via Fred Greetham of 247sports.

The Browns are looking forward to having Watson available for a full season in 2023, but they have plenty to prove after finishing last in the division at 7-10. Since reaching the playoffs with an 11-5 record in Head Coach Kevin Stefanski's first season (2020), the Browns have gone 8-9 (2021) and 7-10 (2022).

At his season-review press conference, Berry was asked what it will take for Cleveland to return to the playoffs in 2023.

"I don't know that that is something that is easily quantifiable," Berry said. "I think really our goal is to provide as much talent as possible that fits within the vision of Kevin and his staff. We want to make sure that we give our coaching staff and Kevin in particular the best ingredients possible."

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