Preseason Preview: AFC North

It’s been an incredible ride but the regular season is finally here! Rosters have been finalized and with that, this is the final edition of my preseason preview. We end with the AFC North division. This division has an interesting group of teams and the fight for the division title is one that is always earned. The Steelers right now look to be the best team but Cincinnati and Baltimore are right there. Will the Cleveland Browns be able to catch up or will they continue to be a bottom dweller?

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers possess one of the most potent offenses in the league. With Big Ben at Quarterback, they always put up huge numbers. Roethlisberger flirted with the idea of retirement but decided to come back. I mean, I would too if I had the weapons he has. Speaking of weapons, one of his key weapons may not be ready for the regular season in Le’Veon Bell. Bell has been holding out and has not signed his Franchise Tag tender. A list of other stars received long-term deals this offseason and Bell is awaiting his payday. If Bell doesn’t show up, Pittsburgh believes second year running back James Conner will be a viable replacement until Bell shows up. The only question I have is what happens if Conner does exceptionally well with Bell out?

Notable Additions: WR James Washington, QB Mason Rudolph

Notable Losses: CB William Gay, FS J.J. Wilcox, QB Landry Jones

Prediction: 12-4

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens made a splash this past spring by drafting the polarizing Lamar Jackson out of Louisville. The former Heisman trophy winner made it clear that he would not make a position change and that he wanted to play Quarterback in the NFL. Possessing dynamic speed and a cannon for an arm, could Joe Flacco’s days be numbered?

Notable Additions: QB Robert Griffin III, WR Michael Crabtree, QB Lamar Jackson

Notable Losses: TE Benjamin Watson, WR Mike Wallace, RB Danny Woodhead

Prediction 8-8

Cincinnati Bengals

At the end of last season, I was shocked when the Bengals decided to bring back Marvin Lewis. I thought he was for sure going to be fired and I know he wants to make the most of his second chance. Always viewed as a good Coach, he has not been able to transfer that same success to the postseason. Since Lewis was hired to Coach the Bengals, he is 0-7 in the postseason. He definitely will be on the hot seat this season and cannot afford a slow start out of the gate.

Notable Additions: LT Cordy Glenn, QB Matt Barkley

Notable Losses: CB Adam Jones, FS George Iloka

Prediction: 9-7

Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns brought in Tyrod Taylor this offseason as a bridge to their number one overall pick, Baker Mayfield. Those two are significant upgrades to a Quarterback unit who struggled mightily last season. Turnovers and miscues plagued the Browns and they are hoping to reverse that trend with Tyrod who is one of the best at protecting the ball and avoiding errors. It’ll be interesting to see how long Taylor has the reigns before everyone gets antsy for Mayfield. The return of Josh Gordon should also help and with Jarvis Landry also in the mix, the Browns passing game should be very exciting this season. Hue Jackson is also on the hot seat and now he really has to show something because he has tremendous pieces to work with.

Notable additions: RB Carlos Hyde, QB Tyrod Taylor, QB Baker Mayfield, RB Nick Chubb CB Denzel Ward

Notable losses: RB Isaiah Crowell, DE Carl Nassib

Prediction: 5-11

Past Previews

NFC East

NFC South

NFC West

NFC North

AFC East

AFC South

AFC West

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