Bengals Struggle, While Browns Reign Supreme in Latest 2021 Regular Season Projections

Cincinnati has finished last in the AFC North in each of the past three seasons.
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CINCINNATI — The Bengals are hoping to turn things around this year after posting five straight losing seasons.

Safety Jessie Bates has emerged as one of the NFL's best safeties, quarterback Joe Burrow showed his potential last season and the team added guys like Riley Reiff, Trey Hendrickson and Ja'Marr Chase this offseason.

Despite their additions, USA Today still projects the Bengals to finish last in the AFC North with a 6-11 record. 

They have the Steelers finishing 7-10 and the Ravens in second place at 11-6. 

Not only do they think the Browns are going to win the AFC North. They also think Cleveland is going to have the best record in the conference at 13-4. They beat out Kansas City (12-5), Tennessee (12-5) and Buffalo (12-5) for the AFC's top spot. 

On one hand, a 6-11 record would be a two-win improvement from a year ago in an extremely competitive division. However, after two-straight offseasons of spending big money in free agency, expectations have to be higher. 

The Bengals need to take multiple steps forward now. If they finish 8-9 or 9-8, it would be a legitimate step forward. 

Going from four wins to six wins isn't that big of an accomplishment—especially with another game on the schedule.

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