CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati Bengals won the division and the AFC in 2021. They’ve returned just about every major contributor from last year, while making significant additions in both free agency and the draft.
Yet, the Cleveland Browns are the favorites to win the AFC North in 2022.
The Browns didn’t make the playoffs last year, but they were able to pull off arguably the biggest transaction of the offseason via the Deshaun Watson trade. Watson is widely regarded as a top-5 quarterback in the NFL and if he doesn’t get suspended for his off-field issues, then it makes sense that Cleveland is the betting favorite to win the AFCN in 2022. They have one of the most talented rosters in the league and now, they have an elite quarterback that places them close to the top of the NFL heirarchy.
But one Bengal, defensive linemen D.J. Reader, isn’t buying the Browns hype.
“I don’t know,” Reader said to reporters after they asked him what he thought about the Browns and Vegas. “I watched a couple UFC fights this weekend. Vegas gets it wrong sometimes, too. They win most of the time, they’re the house, but they get it wrong a lot of times too.
“Who cares? It seems like it goes through us right now, so until somebody comes and takes it from us, I’m gonna be confident in us.”
Reader has every right to feel like the AFC North runs through Cincinnati. Watson is a great quarterback, but the Bengals have their own great quarterback in Joe Burrow. The Bengals also have better weapons on offense and the defense is no slouch, either.
But Reader also doesn’t mind flying under the radar. He relishes it. And he can’t wait to show Vegas -and the rest of the NFL- what the Bengals are capable of on Sundays.
“I don’t really care if anybody on the outside notices,” Reader said in regard to flying under the radar. “I’d rather them not. And then, roll into Paul Brown [Stadium] on Sundays and get thumped in the mouth.”
You can watch Reader’s full press conference, below:
Featured image via Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports