NFL Predictions: AFC North

Building on our NFL Preview discussion, here are some thoughts on the AFC North.

We previously covered the AFC East, and the AFC West has been discussed at length.


  1. Aaron's thoughts from the NFL Preview talk:

    "The AFC North is the Steelers to lose. Just an incredible franchise all around and Ben Roethlisberger will win at least one playoff game this winter.

    The Ravens are the clear second, but need Joe Flacco to play like he did last year and for a strong running game to continue. Last year they patched it together with Willis McGahee, Le'Ron McClain, and Ray Rice. Neither is a #1 RB, but together they can suffice. The lack of receivers could hurt, but not as much as people think, if the running backs can carry the load. Ray Lewis is getting older, but Ozzie Newsome keeps drafting great defensive players and their defense won't suffer in the slightest. Expect a lot of 14-10 and 10-7 victories.

    The Browns are confused as long as Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn are both on the roster. As soon as Braylon Edwards starts catching the ball thrown from the same QB every time, the Browns could be taking small steps forward.

    The Bengals will be in the top 10 in passing yards, but will also be drafting in the top 10 again next year."

  2. I find this division oddly fascinating. The Steelers are obviously the best team, and the Ravens are the obvious #2. The Browns and Bengals could both be surprisingly good. Longshots to have .500 or winning records.

    All teams in the division have the potential to exceed expectations (unless the Steelers expectations are to repeat, in which case they could win another Superbowl). Could the Ravens be really good and potentially win the division? Or at the least be a really scary wild card team?

    If Braylon Edwards is good again I think the Browns will be too. Their team is surprisingly decent. I am not one of those people that thinks Carson Palmer is due to come back in a big way this year though... just too many injuries, too frequently, you know?

    On the other hand, is it possible that Cedric Benson might be kind of good? Maybe?

  3. The Steelers, right now are the best organization in football. They are even a little younger and more athletic than the Patriots. There is no aspect of the game they are unable to execute proficiently. They genuinely scare me as a fan of an AFC team.

    The Ravens have always had a good foundation, and that is still the case, but I believe they are missing that little extra needed to make the playoffs. Could be the lack of a power, 370 carry, running back, or a go-to receiver on 3rd and 7 (that used to be Derrick Mason and Todd Heap, but they need to be better than they were last year). Their defense will still be great, but led by Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs, not Ray Lewis. Joe Flacco would need to have a Pro Bowl season for the Ravens to beat the Steelers, and that's not going to happen this year.

    The Browns and the Bengals are also rans in this division, not even close to contenders.

    The Browns need one QB, not two, a younger running back, which they might have in Jerome Harrison, and a second person to catch the ball, assuming Braylon Edwards is the first (which is not a safe assumption).

    The Bengals need Carson Palmer to start the 16th game and for Marvin Lewis to pick an identity and stick to it. Either go for character guys, or go for talent, right now he's pretending to do both. The loss of TJ Houshmandzadeh will be bigger than anyone thinks and Chad Ochocinco is going to feel it more than anyone else. I'd also be willing to bet that Cedric Benson and Chris Perry combine to be worse than any starting running back in the NFC North. Their defense has no identity and is lacking in every area that the Steelers excel. They might win 6-7 games, but I'd say it's more likely they finish with a top five draft pick.