NFL: AFC North Team Previews and Predictions
With the AFC East in the books, we now move on to the AFC North. This division has teas that literally hate each other. It seems to have to most fights, the dirtiest shots, and records can be thrown out the window. At times, you feel that the teams rather make the other team suffer than win the game. When you watch a game in the AFC North, you are watching a fight. So, with that type of an introduction, let’s get right to the AFC North Divisional Predictions.
Most people think Baltimore is going to be better than I do. Probably because they have a good coach and a good front office. However, I feel they had ignored certain things. They still need a WR. They also need 2 OL. Their TEs have been a disappointment. And their RB is nowhere to be found. They need a lot of help for QB Joe Flacco, who is NOT an elite QB in my opinion. Watching this offense, this year could get very ugly.
On defense, the Ravens have potential, but they need to show it on the field. Brandon Williams an CJ Mosley help to shut down running games. They drafted Tyus Bowser to help their aging veteran pass rusher, Terrell Suggs. Their secondary is good with Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, and Eric Weddle. However, they need a few more upgraded spots for me to call them a top 10 defense this year.
Record Last Year 8-8
Vegas Win Line 8.5
My Prediction 6-10
On offense, the Bengals only have 1 big hole. However, it’s the biggest hole you can have on an offense, the offensive line. The Bengals need 2, if not 3, offensive linemen to solve all their issues. They have a stud WR in AJ Green, the stud TE in Tyler Eifert, and now a future stud RB in Joe Mixon. Andy Dalton is a solid, but not great QB, but good enough to not cost you games. But their offensive line could ruin what could be a very good thing in Cincinnati this year.
To be completely honest, I don’t see a weakness on this defense if everyone plays to their normal ability. You could nitpick and say that an upgrade at Safety over Josh Shaw could help, but realistically, they Bengals have everything you want in a defense. They have toughness, speed, power, experience, and a little nastiness. The last part sometimes puts them in trouble, but that’s on Coach Marvin Lewis to keep them in line.
Record Last Year 6-9-1
Vegas Win Line 8.5
My Prediction 9-7
I’m higher on the Browns than most. They lost a lot of games last year by a TD or less. When you think about all the pieces they added this offseason, you have to think they win some of those games. They lose Terrelle Pryor, but gained Kenny Britt, have a healthy Corey Coleman, and drafted an athletic TE in David Njoku. With everyone asking who the Browns can draft next year to be their QB, they drafted one this year that I think has a lot of ability. Deshone Kizer has all the attributes to be a franchise QB. Now the question is if his head is in it.
If I were the Browns I would have taken another safety because they really did need 2 of them, but it’s hard to complain about anything they did draft day. Every player they took, or at least 9 of the 10, will have some type of impact on them this year. They had a stellar draft and you will start to see it this year and a lot more in years to come. With 5 of those players coming on defense, this team should be able to keep up with most teams. Look out for them in a year if the offense comes together like the defense.
Record Last Year 1-15
Vegas Win Line 4.5
My Prediction 6-10
I truly thought the Steelers would win the Superbowl last year. However, the Patriots pretty much made it look easy against them. This team has the best WR and RB in the sport to go along with a top 10, some say top 5, QB. Their offensive line is solid and there really isn’t a reason other than health why this team can’t have a top 5 offense.
Here is the side of the ball that failed them against the Patriots. Whether it was WR running wide open in the secondary or the Patriots running it down their throats, the Steelers had no answer for New England. I wasn’t too enthused with their draft picks except for TJ Watt, he should help the pass rush. Bud Dupree is also going to have to show the talent that made him the 1st round pick 2 years ago. They will also have to hope that their young secondary takes a big stride forward from last. There will be a lot of eyes on Artie Burns and Sean Davis.
Record Last Year 11-5
Vegas Win Line 10.5
My Prediction 12-4
Also, something of note. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has mentioned retirement a lot over the last couple year. If he retires, does that close the door on Pittsburgh? They haven’t been good with him on the sidelines. They need a plan soon. In a division where home field means nothing, records mean nothing, and the teams just flat out hate each other, there’s nothing more intense. That describes every game within the AFC North. The Steelers look like the best overall team, but games are not won on paper. Enjoy the games.