CINCINNATI BENGALS (13-8, Super Bowl runner-up)
CAMP SITE: Cincinnati, Ohio
LAST YEAR: Coming off a 4-11-1 run in coach Zac Taylor's second season, expectations for the Bengals were tempered.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Stephon Tuitt's NFL career is over.
The Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive lineman announced his retirement on Wednesday, saying he feels called to move on from the game following the death of his younger brother in June 2021 and Tuitt's recent graduation from Notre Dame.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Joe Burrow said he didn't spend any time second-guessing himself or pondering what might have been after the Bengals' Super Bowl loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
CLEVELAND (AP) — Cade York has already kicked out his competition with the Browns.
Cleveland released kickers Chase McLaughlin and Chris Blewitt on Monday, two days after selecting York, one of college football's best kickers, in the fourth round of the NFL draft to upgrade its wayward kicking game.
The Baltimore Ravens agreed to a five-year deal with safety Marcus Williams, bolstering a secondary that was decimated by injuries last season as the team finished last in the NFL against the pass.
CINCINNATI (AP) — The Cincinnati Bengals weren't expected to be in the Super Bowl.
After all, they finished 4-11-1 and in last place in the AFC North in the 2020 season.
The Bengals were a good team in 2021, but not a great one.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Joe Mixon's foot injury in 2020 was one of many unfortunate events in another train wreck of a season for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cincinnati had shown promise early that year, but suddenly its premier running back, coming off two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, was done after six games.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Desmond Ridder likes to think the historic success of his Cincinnati Bearcats helped put the Bengals on the path to the Super Bowl.
“It’s pretty cool. I’d like to say we started them — we kind of helped them get to the playoff point,” joked the former Bearcats quarterback who is in Mobile, Alabama, this week preparing for Saturday's Senior Bowl.
Rematches can be fun, particularly with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
NFL fans get a pair of them on Sunday.
Most intriguing simply for its historical significance is the 49ers at the Rams.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati owner Mike Brown stuck with Zac Taylor through two dreadful seasons as the first-time head coach compiled a 6-25-1 record and much of the shrinking fanbase yawned.
Talk about newcomers versus the tried and true.
Here come the Cincinnati Bengals, who had lost eight straight playoff games since their last victory 31 years ago. Awaiting them at loud, sometimes intimidating Arrowhead Stadium will be the Kansas City Chiefs, in their fourth consecutive AFC championship game and seeking their third trip in a row to the Super Bowl.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Joe Burrow led an efficient offense that scored on six drives, including two of his touchdown passes, and rookie Evan McPherson made four field goals as the Cincinnati Bengals finally advanced in the playoffs with a 26-19 win over Las Vegas in Saturday’s wild-card game.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Many in Cincinnati scoffed when the Bengals passed on elite Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell to take Ja'Marr Chase with the fifth-overall pick in the NFL draft last spring.
Cincinnati sorely needed offensive line help, and Sewell seemed an obvious choice.
CLEVELAND (AP) — Joe Burrow's sitting out this one to rest for the playoffs. Baker Mayfield's skipping the season finale as well — for a very different reason.
To think what it might have been: Burrow and the brash, baby Bengals vs.
CLEVELAND (AP) — Case Keenum didn't doubt Baker Mayfield's toughness for a single second. He may have underestimated his tenacity.
"There were some weeks just to get him to the field was a small miracle,” said Keenum, Cleveland's backup quarterback who will start for Mayfield in the Browns' season finale on Sunday.
Dallas star rookie linebacker Micah Parsons and Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon were the latest big-name players added to the COVID-19 reserve list Wednesday.
Parsons will likely miss the season finale for the Cowboys on Saturday against Philadelphia when Dallas has a chance to improve its playoff seeding.
CINCINNATI (AP) — The AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals won't play quarterback Joe Burrow in the regular-season finale against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday to make sure he is healthy for the first round of the playoffs.
Cincinnati sacks leader Trey Hendrickson and three other starters are among five Bengals who were placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Tuesday.
Center Trey Hopkins and left guard Quinton Spain were sidelined along with safety Vonn Bell.
CLEVELAND (AP) — Baker Mayfield’s broken fourth season with the Browns has mercifully ended with one game left.
His time in Cleveland could be running short as well.
Mayfield is sitting out the season finale against Cincinnati so he can undergo surgery on his left shoulder, an injury that affected his performance, contributed to the Browns' falling way short of expectations and may have altered the path of his NFL career.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Cleveland Browns knew they had been eliminated from playoff contention entering a Monday night showdown against their AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
But a battered Baker Mayfield wanted to lead his team to a winning record.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Joe Burrow danced and puffed on a cigar as the Cincinnati Bengals staged a locker room celebration worthy of a worst-to-first AFC North champion.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs probably felt as if they were looking in a mirror on Sunday in Cincinnati.
There was a young, hotshot quarterback carving up their defense for 446 yards and four touchdowns.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes, A.J. Dillon ran for two more scores and the Green Bay Packers routed the Minnesota Vikings 37-10 on Sunday night to wrap up the NFC’s No.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Patrick Mahomes had a message for young Bengals star Ja'Marr Chase when the two met on the field after Cincinnati's dramatic 34-31 win over Kansas City to clinch the AFC North title.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Evan McPherson kicked a 20-yard field goal as time ran out, and the Cincinnati Bengals earned their first AFC North title and postseason appearance in six years with a wild 34-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Monday, Jan. 3
Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 8:15 p.m. EST. The AFC North looked like one of the better divisions in football earlier in the year, but has descended into mediocrity with Pittsburgh (7-7-1), Cleveland (7-8) and Baltimore (8-8) hovering around .500.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs downgraded running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to out of Sunday's game in Cincinnati.
Edwards-Helaire hurt his shoulder early in the second half of last weekend's romp past Pittsburgh.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Cam Heyward knows what it takes to shut down the Cleveland Browns' rushing attack.
The Steelers have the worst rush defense in the league, but they were able to keep running back Nick Chubb and the Browns in check when the AFC North rivals met in Cleveland on Halloween.
Something we've come to expect is Kansas City closing in on AFC home-field advantage for the playoffs and the only bye. A win and the Titans losing to the Dolphins does the trick.
As for the Cincinnati Bengals clinching anything but a high draft choice?
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow admitted that this week that he heard the warning from Baltimore defensive coordinator Wink Martindale against putting him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame so early in his young NFL career.
KANSAS CITY (11-4) at CINCINNATI (9-6)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EST, CBS
OPENING LINE: Chiefs by 5 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
The Baltimore Ravens have remained competitive all season despite injuries that have decimated the roster.
Against Cincinnati, it finally looked like one team's backups trying to stop another team's stars.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Joe Burrow and coach Zac Taylor didn't care that the Bengals already had the game in hand when they continued to dial up pass plays late in the win that sealed a season sweep of the Baltimore Ravens.
Josh Johnson joined the Ravens 10 days ago, and the well-traveled quarterback started his first game in 1,092 days with first place in the AFC North on the line Sunday at Cincinnati.
The Chargers didn’t have outside linebacker Joey Bosa, running back Austin Ekeler, receiver Mike Williams and center Corey Linsley when they faced the Texans.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers arrived at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday with their playoff hopes beginning to fade.
Then, they played like a team ready to disappear into the offseason.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Joe Burrow's franchise record-breaking 525-yard passing performance clearly meant something to the Cincinnati Bengals, who continued calling deep throws for him late in the fourth quarter with a 20-point lead against division rival Baltimore until the mark was secured.
CINCINNATI (AP) — A Baltimore Ravens team ravaged by injuries and illness had no choice but to put Sunday’s battle for first place at Cincinnati in the hands of a quarterback who was signed 10 days earlier.
The Baltimore Ravens put quarterback Tyler Huntley on the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, leaving them without their top two QBs for Sunday’s showdown at Cincinnati for first place in the AFC North.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Depleted by injuries and COVID-19 protocols, the Baltimore Ravens have dropped three straight but remain in the thick of the crowded AFC playoff race.
The inconsistent Cincinnati Bengals are tied with the Ravens for the lead in the AFC North, but the potential postseason field is so crowded that a loss will send one of them tumbling back into the pack.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Cleveland Browns are residing in the AFC North basement, dealing with COVID-19 complications and playing two road games in a span of six days.
Yet they remain in the mix for a second straight playoff berth.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Tyler Huntley missed practice Friday for the Baltimore Ravens with an illness, adding even more uncertainty to the team's quarterback situation heading into this weekend's showdown at Cincinnati.
2 go or not 2 go. That is the question.
It's a query Ravens coach John Harbaugh has faced twice lately, and many times in the past. It's one that fellow AFC North coach Mike Tomlin of the Steelers — yes, two of the NFL's best sideline men — also has been asked a bunch.
The Baltimore Ravens are preparing for what's almost certainly the most important game of their season so far — a showdown at Cincinnati, with the winner taking over sole possession of first place in the AFC North.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The postseason is arriving early for the AFC North.
That's how Baltimore offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler sees it, at least.
“I’d say every week from here on out is a playoff game,” said Zeitler, a 10-year veteran now playing for his third AFC North team.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Lamar Jackson did not practice for the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday because of his sprained ankle.
The Ravens practiced indoors without reporters. The team's injury report listed Jackson as absent, along with receiver Devin Duvernay (ankle), offensive lineman Tyre Phillips (knee), guard Ben Powers (foot) and cornerback Tavon Young (concussion).
CLEVELAND (AP) — Improbable ended up being impossible for the snake-bit Browns.
Three seconds from pulling out an all-hands-on-deck win under extraordinary circumstances, and with a chance to seize first place in the cluttered AFC North and tighten its grip on a playoff spot, Cleveland crumbled.
CLEVELAND (AP) — Daniel Carlson’s 48-yard field goal as time expired sent the Las Vegas Raiders to a 16-14 win on Monday night over the COVID-19-depleted Cleveland Browns in a game pushed back two days by the NFL amid an uptick of virus cases across the league.
CLEVELAND (AP) — After all they endured over the past week, the Browns were seconds away from an unlikely leap into first place in the AFC North.
Instead, they're at the bottom.
Unable to overcome a COVID-19 outbreak that ravaged their starting lineup, sidelining their top two quarterbacks and coach, the Browns were beaten 16-14 on Monday night by the Las Vegas Raiders, who won on Daniel Carlson's 48-yard field goal as time expired.