Cincinnati Bengals (4-2)
Schedule so far
Reason for optimism
The Bengals have played three road games so far this season. The first was a loss to the Bears in Week 1, and the second was a loss to the Browns in Week 4 (two teams the Lions have already defeated this season). This past week, the Bengals did pick up a win on the road, but it took overtime for them to defeat the Thaddeus Lewis-led Bills. Yes, that's the same Thaddeus Lewis who was the Lions' fourth-string quarterback in the preseason. He went 19 for 32 for 216 yards and 2 touchdowns against Cincinnati.
Reason for pessimism
The Bengals are a pretty solid team across the board. Defensively, they're ninth in opposing passing yards allowed and 10th in opposing rushing yards allowed. And on the offensive side of the ball, they're 16th in both passing yards and rushing yards. They aren't necessarily elite in one single category, but they're a balanced team that plays pretty well on both sides of the ball.
Storyline to watch
It's another battle of first-place teams this week between the NFC North and AFC North. The Lions' win this past Sunday kept them in first in the NFC North, and it dropped the Browns out of a first-place tie in the AFC North. With the Bengals winning, they are now in first place in the AFC North. Like the Lions, the Bengals are 4-2, and this is shaping up to be a pretty noteworthy matchup between two teams with playoff and division title aspirations.
For more on the Bengals, check out Cincy Jungle.