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Cincinnati Bengals haven't closed gap on Ravens

The 2012 AFC North season started just like last year, with the Baltimore Ravens pounding a division rival at home.


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Last year, the Ravens beat the Pittsburgh Steelers into submission. This time, it was the Cincinnati Bengals. You'll hear that "it's only Week 1" but Week 1 matters. The Ravens' opening week victory last year was the difference between a bye week and starting the playoffs on the road.

All these AFC North clashes matter, and the Bengals still haven't shown they can win one. The Ravens went undefeated in the division last year; the Bengals lost all four games to the Ravens and Steelers.

The Bengals could not protect Andy Dalton during their 44-13 loss, and their isle of misfit former first-round draft picks in the secondary couldn't handle the Ravens' up-tempo attack. They'll also have to handle Pittsburgh's deep receiver crew.

Maybe it's not fair to put last year's Bengals' struggles against quality teams on this year's crew. But life in the AFC North isn't fair. The Bengals have an uphill climb to make the playoffs because of their division. They have yet to close the gap on the Ravens.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal

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