AFC North Preview.

AFC NORTH:

Ohio Still Playing Catch Up.

WINNERS – BALTIMORE RAVENS:

Best roster in the league? I think so. Best culture in the NFL? For my money. A Head Coach who has been there, done it and got the ring to show for it? Yep. Can they win a third Lombardi? I’m not so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the Ravens as a Football Team on the field and as an organization but I worry they may be one trick ponies a little and although far too strong to be found out during the season have they got what it takes when good playoff teams have an extended time to prepare for them? It’s easy to say “Yeah, of course they can” but we’re yet to see it and until we do, I’m sceptical. I liked their draft, their first two picks in Patrick Queen the Linebacker from LSU and J.K. Dobbins the Running Back out of Ohio State and whilst Linebacker was a need, Running Back wasn’t but at 55th overall they couldn’t pass him up and it gives them an unbelievable accumulation of talent in the backfield, this Raven run game should be lethal once again. The Ravens also boast (as always) a top defense, one that was bolstered in the offseason with the acquisition of man mountain, Calais Campbell. I’m expecting the Ravens to win the North but not quite succeed on their quest to add another Lombardi to their collection although it wouldn’t completely shock me if they did.

PREDICTION: 13-3

BEST CASE: 15-1

WORST CASE: 10-6


2ND PLACE – PITTSBURGH STEELERS:

This is where this division gets interesting for me, If Big Ben can stay healthy and play all season can the Steelers push the Ravens close in the battle for the division? I like what they have on defense which was one of the top units in the league last year add to that what I believe will be an improved offense with the draft selection of my man crush, Chase Claypool and what I’m expecting to be a real breakout season from outside Receiver, Diontae Johnson as well as the maturation of JuJu Smith-Schuster who I expect to see more in the slot this year. If featured Running Back, James Conner and Ben Roethlisberger can stay healthy we could see a Steeler team built to win on both sides of the ball but if Big Ben goes down again or doesn’t come back from injury the same guy we could see another year of talented defense carry a misfiring offense to a .500 season.

PREDICTION: 10-6

BEST CASE: 12-4

WORST CASE: 8-8


3rd PLACE – CLEVELAND BROWNS:

All change again in Cleveland but this time I don’t expect them to flatter to deceive. Out the door went Freddie Kitchens after a lacklustre year in which they were expected to challenge for the division, Kitchens has been replaced by the man he apparently beat out for the job last year, Kevin Stefanski who leaves his Offensive Co-ordinator role with the Minnesota Vikings to take a top job for the first time in his career and moved fast to fix the most glaring need the team had adding Jack Conklin in Free Agency and Jedrick Wills Jr to bookend their offensive line and hopefully protect Baker Mayfield after he was running for his life most of last year. Austin Hooper also came in FA and became the highest paid Tight End in the game for a while, add him to an offense which already boasts OBJ, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt & Jarvis Landry, the talent is there for the Browns to finally make some nosie.. Just a shame they’re still in a division with the Ravens and Steelers!

PREDICTION: 8-8

BEST CASE: 10-6

WORST CASE: 7-9


4TH PLACE – CINCINNATI BENGALS:

It’s a new dawn in Cincinnati after drafting LSU singnal caller Joe Burrow with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, Burrow came out of nowhere as a draft prospect last year but in throwing 60 touchdowns whilst leading the LSU Tiger offense to a National Championship he leapfrogged Tua Tagovailoa and became unanimous QB1 amongst Draft ‘experts’ and all signs in training camp point to them and the Bengals making the correct choice. Although I think this is a team pointing in the right direction with some good franchise pieces, I ultimately think it’s a little early in the re-build to start projecting winning seasons.

PREDICTION: 5-11

BEST CASE: 6-10

WORST CASE: 4-12


Favourite Bet.

Exact finishing order

  1. Baltimore Ravens
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers
  3. Cleveland Browns
  4. Cincinnati Bengals – 5/2

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