AFC North: Paul Brown Stadium

Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC North: Morning take: I grew up in the Washington D.C. area and I don't see it. These two teams do not play enough in the regular season, and they certainly haven't met in big games.
  • The rebuilding Cincinnati Bengals will make their 2011 debut Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium.
Morning take: This is the first home game of the post-Carson Palmer/Chad Ochocinco era. The youthful Bengals will get a chance to show what they can do in front of their home crowd against rookie quarterback Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
  • The Cleveland Browns could be without six starters in the third preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Morning take: That's too bad, because this is the most important preseason game. Injured players like receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (foot) and guard Eric Steinbach (back) have missed a lot of playing time and can use the reps with the offense.
Morning take: Essex is versatile and will provide depth at the guard and tackle spots. He’s one of those players who always seems to find his way into the lineup. Essex has 25 starts in six seasons.
It's been an eventful day of blogging about the reigning AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers, thanks to Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison.

But there are three other teams in the AFC North. So here are the latest happenings Wednesday around the entire division:
Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC North: Morning take: I won't make any predictions before free agency and training camp, but this is shaping up to be a two-team race in the AFC North. The Week 1 matchup will be a huge tone-setter for both teams.
Morning take: This is a very sore topic for Cincinnati residents and Bengals fans. Adding salt to the wound is the fact the Bengals routinely put out a losing product and hasn't won a playoff game in 20 years, leaving many in Hamilton County feeling empty.
Morning take: There are several good candidates, but I have to go with Indianapolis. Not only do the Colts regularly break the Ravens' hearts, but the history of the Colts moving to Indy adds to the furor.
Morning take: Cleveland is playing a 4-3 for the first time since 2005. It's not going to be an easy transition, but it's wise for veterans in the know to help the other players.
Here are the latest happenings Tuesday evening in the AFC North:

Morning take: Browns WR misses

February, 23, 2011
2/23/11
7:00
AM ET
Here are the most interesting stories Wednesday in the AFC North: Morning take: Braylon Edwards, Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi were all recent misses for Cleveland. Should that scare the team away from blue-chip prospect A.J. Green of Georgia?
Morning take: Not nearly as much as a team like the Browns. The Steelers have a veteran group which will run the same system.
Morning take: Click the link and find out.
Morning take: The Ravens should continue to take their time with Kindle. There's not full contact until training camp anyway. So the longer the wait, the better.
The offseason has not been kind to the Cincinnati Bengals.

It's only February and already their starting quarterback wants out, they fired their offensive coordinator, and there's always the much-debated stadium lease that never ceases to be a hot topic.

With that in mind, the Bengals' team website came up with "The Who Dey Perspective." It's the team's way to provide its side on hot-button and controversial issues going on with the Bengals, which I think is a great idea.

The first installment is from Bengals Public Relations Director Jack Brennan, who is one of the best in the business. He offers the team's take on the Paul Brown Stadium lease with Hamilton County, Ohio.

We've heard plenty from media and fans. Here is the team's side on the issue.

After reading, feel free to discuss the topic below.

Morning take: Bruce Arians

January, 31, 2011
1/31/11
8:00
AM ET
Here are the most interesting stories Monday in the AFC North:

  • Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has the Pittsburgh Steelers playing in another Super Bowl.
Morning take: I always found it funny that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gets all the credit when the Steelers do well on offense. But when the offense struggles, it's because of Arians. Tough gig for Arians.
Morning take: Click the link and find out.
Morning take: Do the Bengals really need a new $8 million scoreboard? At least they can take that expense out for taxpayers.

  • The Cleveland Browns' expected switch to a 4-3 could be a challenge this year.
Morning take: Cleveland has a lot of aging players on the defensive line, which means the team needs to infuse some youth and talent up front.

Morning take: Ravens' playoff scenarios

December, 28, 2010
12/28/10
7:30
AM ET
Here are the most interesting stories Tuesday in the AFC North: Morning take: I don't care how inconsistent the Colts have been this year, this is a tough matchup for Baltimore as long as Peyton Manning is under center. The Ravens would be better off facing another team.
Morning take: Fan confidence is way down, as evident by Cincinnati's four straight blackouts to end the season. The Bengals need to rebuild the right way to get fans back in Paul Brown Stadium.
  • With head coach Eric Mangini on the hot seat, Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren is keeping a low profile.
Morning take: Holmgren hasn't talked to the media in nearly two months. With the Browns on a three-game losing streak, silence isn't a good sign.
Morning take: Suisham is 12-for-13 on field goals and surpassed all expectations after replacing Jeff Reed. He's one of the more underrated acquisitions in the AFC North.

Ochocinco unhappy with Lewis' comments

December, 22, 2010
12/22/10
3:30
PM ET
Oh, those zany Cincinnati Bengals.

Despite recently ending a 10-game losing skid with a win over the Cleveland Browns, receiver Chad Ochocinco and head coach Marvin Lewis are butting heads once again. But this time Ochocinco doesn't appreciate comments made by his coach when, usually, it's the other way around.

Ochocinco
Lewis
Lewis described Ochocinco's mood as "mopey" Wednesday on a conference call with the San Diego media. The Bengals will host the Chargers Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

"Well, he's being his mopey self," Lewis said. "Hopefully, he can pull himself out of it and move forward. ... When things don't go Chad's way, that's kinda how it happens."

Lewis didn't stop there.

"I don't deal with it," he said. "We just move on. We'll put a new guy in there. If he's not ready to go Sunday, we'll have somebody in there ready to go and go from there."

Ochocinco, who is dealing with an ankle injury, got word of Lewis' comments and fired back via Twitter.
"Since when the [expletive] am I ever mopey?" Ochocinco tweeted. "I'm injured for the 1st time in 9 years and it's called being mopey, unless I'm dead then I get respect."
Ochocinco also tweeted that he feels like he's being thrown under the bus by Lewis. The Bengals' star receiver and head coach have always had an interesting relationship in their eight seasons together.

But as things continue to unravel during this abysmal 3-11 season, both futures are uncertain and it's very possible we're seeing the last of this pairing together in Cincinnati.

Wrap-up: Bengals 19, Browns 17

December, 19, 2010
12/19/10
4:00
PM ET
Here are some thoughts on the Cincinnati Bengals' victory over the Cleveland Browns:

What it means: The Bengals broke their NFL-high 10-game losing streak against the same team that started it in October. Despite plenty of speculation about the future of the coaching staff and key players, Cincinnati stayed focused and improved to 3-11. Meanwhile, this is another ugly loss for the Browns (5-9), who have now fallen to the woeful Bengals and Bills in back-to-back weeks. Cleveland head coach Eric Mangini is on the hot seat and these two losses will weigh heavily against him in the eyes of Browns president Mike Holmgren.

What I liked: With the cold weather, Cincinnati went back to last year's formula that made the team successful. Bengals tailback Cedric Benson looked energized and rushed for a season-high 150 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. Cincinnati also got rare contributions from young receivers Andre Caldwell (four catches for 89 yards) and Jerome Simpson (two catches for 30 yards), who have been M.I.A. this season. For Cleveland, rookie quarterback Colt McCoy handled the winter conditions pretty well and completed 19 of 25 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Browns receiver Brian Robiskie also had his second quality game of the season with five catches for 82 yards and a touchdown.

What I didn't like: For one of the few times this season, Cleveland was physically dominated in the trenches. The Browns couldn't stop Cincinnati's running game and couldn't run the ball effectively on offense, which was the difference in this game. Peyton Hillis ran for just 59 yards, as the Browns had just one rushing first down in the game. There's not much to dislike from the Bengals' perspective after finally getting back in the win column, other than the fact that winning hurts the team's draft position.

What's next: The Bengals will host the San Diego Chargers in the final home game of the season at Paul Brown Stadium. Barring an unexpected surge in ticket sales, it will be the fourth consecutive home blackout in Cincinnati. The Browns will end the season with back-to-back home games against AFC North rivals. First, Cleveland will host the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 26, then end the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 2.

As expected, the Cincinnati Bengals announced that Sunday's game against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints will be blacked out.

The Bengals failed to sell out the game this week at Paul Brown Stadium and, as a result, it will not be shown on television in the Cincinnati area.

This is the second consecutive home game in which the Bengals (2-9) couldn't fill their stadium. They are also in danger of not selling out their final two home games against the Cleveland Browns (Dec. 19) and San Diego Chargers (Dec. 26) to end the 2010 season.

Wrap-up: Jets 26, Bengals 10

November, 25, 2010
11/25/10
11:43
PM ET
Here are some thoughts on the New York Jets' 26-10 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals:

What it means: Cincinnati lost its NFL-high eighth straight game, falling to 2-9. It also confirms the Bengals will have another losing season in 2010. This game looked like many of the other losses for Cincinnati. It involved turnovers, mental errors, and the inability to put together four solid quarters of football.

What I liked: Cincinnati played competitive in the first half and even led the Jets, 7-3, at intermission. But the better team eventually took over. The Bengals also got decent play from first-year defensive lineman Carlos Dunlap (two sacks) and rookie receiver Jordan Shipley (five receptions, 38 yards, one touchdown). These two are auditioning to become a core part of Cincinnati's rebuilding efforts in 2011.

What I didn't like: The Bengals were not ready to play in the second half for the second straight game. After giving up 35 unanswered points to the lowly Buffalo Bills last week, the Jets outscored Cincinnati 23-3 in the second half Thursday. Doing simple math, that means the Bengals have been outscored an astounding 58-3 after intermission in the past two weeks. The special teams also were horrendous for the Bengals, and quarterback Carson Palmer (135 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions) had his fifth multi-interception game of the season.

What's next: The brutal part of Cincinnati's schedule continues. After facing the 9-2 Jets, the Bengals will host the 8-3 New Orleans Saints Dec. 5 at Paul Brown Stadium. The good news is Cincinnati has 10 days to get healthy for the Saints, who also have an extended week after beating the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. The game against New Orleans isn't sold out, so Cincinnati will need a surge in ticket sales to avoid its second straight blackout at home this season.

Blackout Watch in Cincinnati

November, 16, 2010
11/16/10
11:00
AM ET
Despite recent struggles with the economy, the AFC North has been able to avoid the NFL's blackout policy the past several years. But that likely will change this weekend in Cincinnati.

Barring an unforeseen surge in ticket sales, the Bengals' 57-game sellout streak will come to an end Sunday when Cincinnati hosts the lowly Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium. The teams have a combined record of 3-15, and the Bengals are nowhere near selling out this game with the deadline looming at the end of the week.

That means Bengals fans will not be able to watch their team locally on television for the first time since 2003. Residents in Cincinnati have to find other means, such as listening to the game on the radio.

There were signs last year that blackouts could be an issue for the Bengals. Cincinnati was close to having its streak end several times last season during its playoff run. But Cincinnati took advantage of deadline extensions where the Bengals found sponsors and fans to buy up the tickets during a successful season.

With Cincinnati at 2-7, there's not nearly enough buzz this season to generate last-minute tickets sales, especially against a team like Buffalo (1-8). The Bengals have three additional home games in December against the New Orleans Saints (6-3), Cleveland Browns (3-6) and San Diego Chargers (4-5) that also are in danger of being blacked out in Cincinnati.

Rapid Reaction: Bengals 45, Bears 10

October, 25, 2009
10/25/09
7:09
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

CINCINNATI -- One of the biggest routs of Week 7 came from a game most didn’t expect.

The Cincinnati Bengals romped the Chicago Bears with an easy 45-10 victory at Paul Brown Stadium. Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 233 yards and five touchdowns, while tailback Cedric Benson rushed for 189 yards and a touchdown against his former team.

Cincinnati put up more points and total yards (448) against the Bears than any opponent this season.

This matchup was considered a toss-up involving two playoff hopefuls. But the disparity makes you wonder if the Bengals (5-2) are even better than advertised, or if the Bears (3-3) are vastly overrated. Perhaps it’s a combination of the two.

Cincinnati enters its bye week happy and in a tie for first place in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2). The Bengals own the head-to-head tiebreaker with Pittsburgh. The Bears, meanwhile, continue their AFC North slate with a game next week against the Cleveland Browns (1-6).

SPONSORED HEADLINES