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AFC North: Cincinnati (3-5)

Pleasant: Vontaze Burfict’s pre-draft reputation was so toxic that the linebacker wasn’t selected in April despite being considered a potential first-round pick entering his junior season. Burfict, though, landed with the perfect franchise when it comes to giving second (and third and fourth) chances. A model citizen and player so far, Burfict has 51 tackles while starting the past six games. That includes a monster 15-tackle outing in a Week Seven loss to Pittsburgh.

Unpleasant: Carolina’s Cam Newton is taking the brunt of the criticism, but he isn’t the only quarterback slumping in his second NFL season. Andy Dalton has thrown an interception in every game this season and matched his season total in fumbles from last season with two through eight games. Adding to his problems: Dalton has gotten sacked 22 times, which is just two less than all of 2011. Looks like Dalton has more growing up to do than we thought entering the season. - Alex Marvez (AP Photo/Michael Keating)

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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