The AFC North division has been as advertised during the 2023 NFL season, with all four teams in the division looking like playoff teams and a couple of them potentially being Super Bowl title contenders.
One team that really needs to keep its foot on the gas pedal moving forward is the Cincinnati Bengals, with the team starting off slow this year due to Joe Burrow’s calf injury but recently coming on strong as of late with four straight wins in order to improve their record to 5-3.
Unfortunately, with the AFC North being as competitive as it is this year, the Bengals can’t afford to make mistakes from here on out, and this week will test their resolve as they’ll face the upstart Houston Texans led by rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud this Sunday followed by a highly anticipated showdown with the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday.
Nick Wright of FOX Sports believes that the matchup with the Ravens on Thursday is arguably the most important of the season thus far, as it will help determine whether Cincinnati wins the division, via “First Things First.”
Any chance the Texans upset the Bengals?
"The Bengals only chance of winning the division is beating the Ravens on Thursday. I know the Bengals want to go 2-0 in the next week, but if they have to go 1-1 it's way better for them to beat Baltimore than Houston."
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) November 10, 2023
Even though the showdown with the Ravens is looming, the Bengals shouldn’t overlook this game with the Texans, as Houston has the capability to beat any team on any given night if everything goes right and Stroud is on his game.
Cincinnati will be dealing with some costly injuries this weekend, namely Tee Higgins being ruled out with a hamstring issue and Ja’Marr Chase dealing with a back injury that has him listed as questionable.
Fortunately, Burrow looks like Burrow again, which means they might be fine with what they’ve got, but it will be an interesting two games in a short amount of time for the shorthanded Bengals.NEXT: Analyst Explains Why Bengals Are On High Alert Now