AFC North: Early Doucet

The Cleveland Browns need a No. 1 wide receiver. The Cincinnati Bengals need a No. 2 one. And the Baltimore Ravens need a No. 3 target.

But all three did nothing to address these voids as the deep free-agent pool for wide receivers quickly evaporated. What's left? Brandon Lloyd (who could be headed for a reunion with Josh McDaniels in New England), a few second-tier wide receivers and a bunch that won't significantly improve a passing attack.

The Browns will have to look to the draft for a go-to receiver because there really isn't one left in free agency. To make matters worse, Mario Manningham said the Browns aren't even on his radar.

The Bengals' top options to pair with A.J. Green include Manningham, Laurent Robinson (scheduled to visit Jacksonville), Early Doucet, Deion Branch and Plaxico Burress. Cincinnati is looking for a more dependable No. 2 receiver than Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell, both of whom are free agents.

The Ravens likely want a No. 3 receiver who can also serve as a returner. Baltimore reportedly has shown interest in the Broncos' Eddie Royal and could go after the 49ers' Ted Ginn.

Here's a recap of what happened with wide receivers on Day 1 of free agency:
Vincent Jackson: Signed with Tampa Bay (five years, $55.5 million)

Marques Colston: Re-signed with New Orleans (five years, reportedly between $35 million and $40 million)

Reggie Wayne: Re-signed with Indianapolis (three years, $17.5 million)

Pierre Garcon: Signed with Washington Redskins (five years, $42.5 million)

Robert Meachem: Signed with San Diego (four years, $25.9 million)

Wrap-up: Bengals 23, Cardinals 16

December, 24, 2011
12/24/11
5:34
PM ET
Thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' 23-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals:

What it means: With the Jets losing, the Bengals (9-6) took back the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC and control their playoff fate. Cincinnati can clinch a playoff spot by beating Baltimore next weekend. The Bengals won their second straight game after losing four of their past five games. Cincinnati improved to 8-0 against teams that don't currently have a winning record.

Surviving a scare: The Bengals ran out to a 23-0 lead before having to sweat out the fourth quarter. Unlike a couple weeks ago against Houston, the Bengals were able to stop a backup quarterback from a monumental comeback. With a chance to tie, Arizona wide receiver Early Doucet was uncovered at the goal line but fell as he ran. That let a fourth-down pass fall incomplete with 71 seconds remaining.

Touchdown of the year: It was a jaw-dropping start for the Bengals, and it had nothing to do with the team scoring the first 23 points of the game. Jerome Simpson delivered one of the top highlights of the season when he somersaulted over a defender into the end zone from three yards out and landed on his feet. You felt like he deserved more than the six points.

Dalton joins elite company: Andy Dalton finished 18 of 31 for 154 yards but he did have something to remember. With two touchdown passes, Dalton joined Peyton Manning, Charlie Conerly and Dan Marino as the only NFL rookies to throw 20 touchdowns.

Poor showing: The Bengals secured only their third winning record in the past 21 years, although few in Cincinnati witnessed it. An announced crowd of 41,273 watched at Paul Brown Stadium. This came close to the smallest crowd in the 12-year history of the stadium (41,142), which was set earlier this season.

What's next: The Bengals finish up the regular season by hosting the Baltimore Ravens. The Bengals lost to the Ravens, 31-24, on Nov. 20 in Baltimore.

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