AFC North Midseason Awards: Bengals running away with division

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

At the halfway point in the 2013 NFL season, the Bengals have the largest lead of any division leader. Almost everyone predicted the Bengals to be good -- some even picked them to win the Super Bowl -- so the real surprise here has been the struggles of the Ravens and the Steelers.

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The AFC North has sent multiple teams to the playoffs for five straight years, but unless Baltimore turns things around soon, it looks like that streak could come to an end. Cleveland could also make a run, but it's hard to see Jason Campbell -- a quarterback who's only started two games since 2011 -- getting hot in the second half of the season. And lets not even talk about the Steelers. Well, not now at least, but we will further down.

AFC North Midseason Awards

Cincinnati Bengals

MVP: Andy Dalton

Surprise: Marvin Jones

Disappointment: Losing Leon Hall

Going Forward: The last time the Bengals started a season 6-2 was in Dalton's rookie year of 2011. With a rookie playing quarterback and low expectations that year, everyone seemed to be alright with just making the playoffs. Not this year though. This team is stacked, Dalton is on fire and if this team doesn't end the the team's 23-season playoff victory drought, everyone in Cincinnati should find a new team to cheer for. Also, with the Broncos and Chiefs set to beat each other up in the AFC West -- they play each other twice in the second half of the season -- a No. 1 seed and home field advantage in the playoffs isn't out of the question for this team.

The first eight weeks in one GIF:

It's been a high-flying first eight weeks for the Bengals. (Fox)
It's been a high-flying first eight weeks for the Bengals. (Fox)

Baltimore Ravens

MVP: Terrell Suggs

Surprise: Suggs (Tore his Achilles in April of 2012, now one of the top defensive players in the NFL)

Disappointment: Ray Rice

Going Forward: The Ravens aren't playing well this season because the offense isn't producing. Both Joe Flacco and Rice have underwhelmed through the season's first eight weeks. Baltimore's rush offense is ranked 28th so far this year after finishing 2012 ranked 11th. Despite the first half struggles, the Ravens are only one game out of the No. 6 playoff spot in the AFC. However, earning that spot won't be easy, Baltimore still has to play the Bengals (twice), the Patriots, the Bears and the Lions.

The first eight weeks in one GIF:

Did the Ravens have too much ice cream during training camp? (Bleacher Report)
Did the Ravens have too much ice cream during training camp? (Bleacher Report)

Cleveland Browns

MVP: Joe Haden

Surprise: Jordan Cameron on offense, Barkevious Mingo on defense

Disappointment: Brandon Weeden

Going Forward: A lot of people thought the Browns were tanking the 2013 season after trading Trent Richardson to the Colts, but the truth is, Cleveland got rid of one of its most disappointing players and got a first round pick in return. That's almost like a free do-over. If Jason Campbell can get in any sort of rhythm, the Browns could make a surprise run down the stretch. Cleveland has five very winnable games going forward in Baltimore, Pittsburgh (twice), the Jets and Jacksonville.

The first eight weeks in one GIF:

Jimmy Haslam dumped Trent Richardson and the Browns haven't looked bad. (NFL Network)
Jimmy Haslam dumped Trent Richardson and the Browns haven't looked bad. (NFL Network)

Pittsburgh Steelers

MVP: LaMarr Woodley

Surprise: Antonio Brown (Letting Mike Wallace walk in free agency looks like a good decision)

Disappointment: Jarvis Jones

Going Forward: Just when you thought the Steelers running game couldn't get any worse, it gets worse. The Steelers ranked 26th in the NFL last season with 96.1 yards per game, now they rank 30th with only 68.7 yards per game. A bad running game would alright if they could throw the ball, but every time the Steelers try and do that, Ben Roethlisberger gets sacked. Roethlisberger has been sacked 26 times this season, the fourth-highest number in the NFL. The bottom line is that .500 is starting to feel like the best-case scenario for Pittsburgh this year.

The first eight weeks in one GIF:

The Steelers have been outrun by everyone this season. (CBS)
The Steelers have been outrun by everyone this season. (CBS)

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