Saturday, August 13, 2016

AFC North Preview: 2016

            Our next division is one that is always one of the NFL's most competitive: The AFC North. This division features a historic franchise in Pittsburgh, a consistent franchise in Baltimore, a competitive franchise in Cincinnati... and a franchise in Cleveland. This is a division where the finishing ranks sans Cleveland can go any way and playoff spots will likely come down to the last week of the season. Here's how the AFC North will break down this year.

  1. Baltimore Ravens: Injuries hampered the Ravens for most of last year. But the hope is that players like Justin Forsett (151 carries, 641 rushing yards, two touchdowns) and crew can return to form. One thing that Baltimore must work on is protecting Joe Flacco better: Flacco was sacked 16 times in the ten games he played last season.
  2. *Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals had one bone-headed Vontaze Burfict play too many as they were minutes from finally escaping the wild-card round. They lost CB Reggie Nelson (14 passes deflected, eight interceptions) to Oakland and WR Marvin Jones (65 receptions, 816 yards, four touchdowns) to Detroit, so there will be some holes present on the Bengals. Still, this will be a dynamic team in the regular season. The question remains: Can Marvin Lewis get this team out of the wild-card round?
  3. *Pittsburgh Steelers: There's no denying that the Steelers will be one of the most exciting offenses to watch this year. After all, they do have one of the best receivers in the game in Antonio Brown. The third-best passing offense from last year (4,603 yards, 8.2 yards per game) will again be hard to stop.
  4. Cleveland Browns: I don't think the question will be if the Browns can make the playoffs. The real question is if Cleveland will actually win a game this season. 

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