Bengals are wounded, but still very dangerous
Ramblin Fan: The Cincinnati Bengals have gotten out to an 0-2 start to the 2023 NFL season. What has been the most significant factor(s) to the challenging start so far?
Leigh: The Bengals are no stranger to starting the season slow. (Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach) Zac Taylor has started four of his five seasons at the helm with an 0-2 record but the last two years' slow starts have been mostly blamed on the Bengals not playing their starters in the preseason and Joe Burrow being unavailable for training camp and preseason (appendicitis in 2022 and calf injury
Burrow said it himself after this week's game (a Week 2 loss to the Baltimore Ravens), it's hard to start strong when the quarterback isn't able to play in preseason. His injury also hasn't helped the situation and the defense hasn't looked up to par either.
Ramblin Fan: With Bengals starting quarterback Joe Burrow aggravating his calf injury,
should the Bengals shut him down and let him live to compete on another day?
Leigh: I'm no doctor, but I don't think Burrow should have been playing (in Week 2) in the first place. He (clearly) wasn't 100 percent and this is a guy the Bengals just made the highest-paid player in the league. So why is he out there if he's not 100 percent healthy?
I'd truthfully stash him on IR and at that point, the Bengals' season is probably over. But most fans would take a lost season than Burrow making his injury worse.
AFC North survey: Who is the toughest team in that division?
Ramblin Fan: The LA Rams face AFC North teams this season. How do you project the AFC North standings at the end of the season? Which AFC North team is the most difficult to defeat?
Leigh: Coming into the season, I'd have said that this is the only division where all four teams could make the playoffs. The (Pittsburgh) Steelers' offense is atrocious, however, so I'm not sure they're a real threat there. The (Cleveland) Browns just lost (starting running back) Nick Chubb so they're less scary now. The Bengals are 0-2 and have a massive hole to climb out of so the division right now looks like it's Baltimore (Ravens' division) to lose.
For the toughest team, typically, I'd have said the Bengals but if Burrow isn't playing, they're a lot less daunting. I'll go with the Ravens for that answer because Lamar Jackson looked excellent this past week and their defense is playing well despite the injuries they have. When they're at (their) full health, watch out!