The AFC North was once known for fierce defenses, hard-nosed running and the powerhouse tandem of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. For years, it has claimed bragging rights as one of, if not the toughest division in the NFL. The reigning regimes of years past have stumbled, thus allowing the emergence of what will likely be a new champion in the AFC North.
We eagerly look toward Sunday for a glimpse into the future. Will the Cleveland Browns claw their way to the top, or will the Cincinnati Bengals prove to be the new king of the block. The season is far from over and no matter how badly we would like to, we cannot yet write off the Steelers or close the door on the cha-, cham-, champi-, well I still can’t bring myself to say it, you know, the Ravens.
Aside from dropped passes, a troubled running game and an assortment of heartbreaking injuries, the 2013 season has provided Cleveland Browns fans with an optimistic future. The return of the “Battle of Ohio” possibly provides the most intrigue, and hope, of any that we have seen. We remain a game and a half behind the Bengals and tied with the C-word Ravens, therefore, we must use caution not to lose sight of reality, but if nothing else, we can find pride in leading our long-lost rival Steelers for the first time in ages, even if only by a game.
The Browns and Bengals share many similarities. Both are young, talented, and looking forward to great things. Both have been troubled with erratic play and season-ending injuries at crucial positions. The next few years will likely define the divisional ranks, but for now, the door is wide open and all four teams are fighting to come out ahead. The Bengals have a step on us, the Ravens and Steelers are nipping at our heels and the opportunity to come out ahead is finally here for the taking.
Sunday could determine the season for our Browns. Win or lose, we have much to look forward to in Cleveland, although as a fan first, a loss would truly be difficult to endure. We have had enough. We have been pushed around, beaten down and knocked out too many times and we have tucked our tails for way too long. We continue to lick our wounds, but we are again on our feet and ready to scrap. The Dawgs are back in Cleveland. Let the battle begin!