Monday, September 6, 2010

AFC North Preview and Predictions

1. Baltimore Ravens - 11-5
In the past, the Ravens have been feared for only their defense, now, their offense has joined the party. Third year QB Joe Flacco has blossomed at the position, and is primed for a huge season. Dynamic second year RB Ray Rice reminds me a lot of Maurice Jones-Drew down in Jacksonville, and will now be the featured back in a very potent offense, look for Rice to have a huge season. The acquisition of Anquan Boldin in the offseason gives Flacco another threat alongside veteran WR Derrick Mason. Also, look for WR Donte Stallworth to spread the field with a lot of targets deep down field.
The Ravens defense is still one of the most feared in the league, thanks to veteran LB's Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. Although CB Dominique Foxworth is out with an injury, the Ravens core of DB's can still be considered one of the best in the league. Guys like All-Pro Safety Ed Reed, CB Fabian Washington, CB Chris Carr, and Strong Safety Dawan Landry make it very tough on opposing teams ariel attacks.

2. Cincinnati Bengals - 9-7
I'm banking on Ochocinco and T.O. NOT turning this team into a reality show, but I can't guarantee it. If "Team Obliterator" (compliments of ESPN First Take analyst Skip Bayless) can keep quiet for an entire season, the Bengals have a chance to be very dangerous. Not only do they have a couple of top notch receivers, they have a good QB in Carson Palmer and a resurgent RB in Cedric Benson at their disposal. Benson had a breakout season in 2009, setting career highs in carries (301), rushing yards (1,251), and TD's (6), now with more attention being paid to Ochocinco and T.O., look for Benson to build on those numbers.
Cincinnati has put together a very nice defensive unit. When looked at one by one, it is very tough to find a glaring weakness. The real strength is their Linebacking core of Rey Maluga, Keith Rivers and Dhani Jones. Look for Right Defensive End Antwan Odom to have a massive season in 2010; in 2009, Odom was on a record setting sack pace with 8 through the first six games, unfortunately, his season was derailed by a ruptured achilles.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers - 8-8
With two-time Super Bowl winning QB Ben Roethlisberger suspended for the first four games of the season, the Steelers will find themselves in a deep hole by the time he comes back in week 6 against the Browns. It has not been decided who will start the season at QB in the Steel City, but it's between former Oregon star Dennis Dixon and veteran Charlie Batch. As of today, on the official website of the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is no QB listed on their depth chart. One positive to start the season is the emergence of third year RB Rashard Mendenhall as a full-time back. Mendenhall was one of many RB's to have a breakout 2009 season, setting career highs in carries (242), rushing yards (1,108) and TD's (7). With Roethlisberger sidelined for the first four games, Mendenhall should see a ton of carries.
The Steelers field one of the best and most intimidating defense in the league along with the Ravens. Nose Tackle Casey Hampton Is a force on the Defensive Line, and it allows the Linebacking core of LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior to blitz and attack at will. Strong Safety Troy Polamalu is coming of a disappointing, injury plagued 2009 season, so look for him to make up for lost time.

4. Cleveland Browns - 2-14
The Browns are a mess. I think the front office of the Browns are still mourning the loss of LeBron James, and forgot that they have an NFL team to run. They traded QB Brady Quinn to the Broncons, and chose QB Jake Delhomme, a guy who is far past his prime, to lead this "offense". Not only did they sign a QB who has thrown 30 interceptions in the last two seasons, they gave him no one to throw to. The one bright spot could be RB Jerome Harisson who should see a ton of carries this season.
The Browns don't even have a defensive depth chart to refer to. That must mean that they don't plan on playing defense this year, not a surprise to me.


  1. in a whole after the first 4 games? we open against the falcons, giants, broncos, and panthers, we could easily go 3-1 in that, if not 4-0...

  2. Or you could go 1-3, it all depends on Dennis Dixon. Falcons Giants and Panthers all have good offenses. If you guys can weather the storm without Big Ben, I see a 12-4 season, but I'm putting my money against the Steelers through the first 4 games.