‘That AFC North Is a Wrap’ — Chad Johnson Confident in Bengals’ Chances With a Healthy Joe Burrow

Despite missing the playoffs last season, Chad Johnson believes the Bengals are primed to take back control of the AFC North in 2024.

Last season didn’t go quite according to plan for the Cincinnati Bengals.

After falling in the AFC Championship Game to the eventual champion Kansas City Chiefs in 2022, a preseason injury to franchise quarterback Joe Burrow left the Bengals faltering to start 2023. Once Burrow was lost for the year late in November, Cincinnati struggled and missed the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

Now, a healthy Burrow is back, and one former Bengal believes reclaiming the AFC North will be an easy task.

Chad Johnson Calls AFC North ‘A Wrap’

Speaking on the Nightcap Podcast with Shannon Sharpe and himself, Chad Johnson (or Ochocinco, depending on when you remember him) made it clear that the Bengals should be favorites in the AFC North if one thing were to happen.

“If we get a healthy Joe Burrow, you already know what’s going to happen,” Johnson stated. “The AFC North is a wrap.”

Most of the conversation between Johnson and Sharpe was spent comparing the upcoming Bengals team to the likes of the two-time defending champion Chiefs. While the Baltimore Ravens are currently the defending champs in the AFC North, Johnson is more focused on stopping the Chiefs’ dynasty.

“From a team perspective, we are built to beat them,” Johnson explained. “Also, in crunch time, it’s two minutes on the clock, we also have a quarterback who can get it done. Defensively, we’ve always had the supporting cast that matches up well against them.”

Despite Baltimore dominating the North, Johnson believes a healthy Burrow is the key to taking back the division. Cincinnati finished 9-8 as a team, but Burrow went 5-5 as a starter.

Is a healthy franchise quarterback enough for the Bengals to take back the division? Las Vegas may not think so just yet.

Are Bengals the Favorite To Win the AFC North?

As of right now, the Bengals have the second-shortest odds to win the AFC North behind the defending champion Ravens. Baltimore is +110 for the division while the Bengals are at +165 at DraftKings Sportsbook. While there is a small gap in betting odds between the Ravens and Bengals, the Cleveland Browns (+600) and Pittsburgh Steelers (+850) are considered long shots to win the AFC North.

Despite the odds, this is expected to be a competitive divisional race in 2024. The Steelers have gone through a transformation of sorts on their offense. Russell Wilson is now the starting quarterback, and the organization appears comfortable in putting their chips in the former Super Bowl winner.

How the Browns perform next season will depend on the healthy return of Deshaun Watson and Nick Chubb. If both are back to their elite forms, it’s easy to see how the organization will continue its run of success.

Then there’s the Ravens. Baltimore may have lost several offensive linemen and key defensive pieces, but the two-time NFL MVP Lamar Jackson is returning for another year.

At the very least, while Burrow’s health will be a key storyline, it’s hard to determine who the favorite will end up being once the games actually start.

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