By: Kenny Roda
Cincinnati Bengals – grade (A) – As crazy as owner Mike Brown looked in not trading Carson Palmer at the beginning of the season, getting rid of his 2 best receivers in OchoCinco and Terrell Owens, letting cornerback Jonathan Joseph walk in free agency, and keeping Marvin Lewis around as head coach, the Bengals are one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season. The drafting of QB Andy Dalton and his play, plus the defense playing at a high level, are big reasons why the Bengals, at the half way point, are tied for 1st place in the AFC North.
Baltimore Ravens – grade (A) - The biggest reason they get an “A” is because they finally have defeated the Steelers twice in the same season to gain the tie breaker in the division and potentially home field advantage in the playoffs. The defense is doing what it always does and Joe Flacco may have turned the corner towards becoming a top-flight quarterback with his impressive game winning 92 yard drive at Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Steelers – grade (B-) – Despite an older defense with a weak secondary, an average to below average offensive line and injuries on offense and defense, the Steelers have won 6 of their first 9 games which puts them right in the divisional race and the playoff race. However with the defense and head coach blowing that Ravens game at home, allowing Baltimore to hold the tie breaking edge, the Steelers can get no higher than a “B-” grade in this mid-term report.
Cleveland Browns – grade (D-) – 1st year head coach Pat Shurmur looks overwhelmed and befuddled at times on the sidelines during a game. His “West Coast” offense, in which he is calling the plays for, is struggling mightily, being outscored 58-6 in the 1st quarter of games and is averaging under 15 points per game. Colt McCoy seems to be regressing at QB. The offensive line, while a little banged up has been terrible. The defense, while it has some players to build around in Joe Haden, Phil Taylor and T.J. Ward, still cannot stop the run. When your MVP at the midway point is your kicker who has made 6 field goals of 50 yards or more, your season can’t be going well. As crazy as this may sound, this team is not as good as it’s record at (3-5). The 3 teams they have beaten have a combined record of (3-22) this season.
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