Unlike the other 2 divisions that I have previewed already, this division has been ran by not 1, but 2 teams. The Steelers and Ravens are perennially the 2 best teams in this division. The Bengals have shown glimpses here and there but have yet to put it together consistently and well……then there is the Browns. However many things have changed this year. The Steelers dropped some of their well known players for younger guys, Ray Rice is going through a contract dispute and T Sizzle is possibly out for the year. The Bengals have a lot of good young pieces gearing up for their 2nd season together….and then there is the Browns (just kidding Browns fans, you have some good things going for you too). Lets break this division down.
1st Pittsburgh Steelers – 12-4
Every year it seems that there is a reason Pittsburgh will fall down the ranks of the AFN North. They are too old, they replaced their old guys with young ones, suspensions, injuries. None of that matters they are one of the best ran organizations in the NFL and that isn’t going to change.
If they retain Mike Wallace their offense will be as potent as ever. Ben Roethlisberger will do the same things he does every year: hold onto the ball too long, take some sacks, but make some absolutely spectacular plays. Wallace and Antonio Brown are one of the best WR duos in the league. Getting David Decastro to bolster that line in the draft was an absolute steal. The only weak spot on that offense may be the running game. Do they have a legit starting RB on that entire team?
The defense on the other hand will be interesting to watch, especially in the early parts of the season. With Evander Hood (Ziggy) now manning the DE spot that has been held by Aaron Smith for so long and Stevenson Sylvester taking over for James Farrior in the middle there could be some growing pains early. We will also have to see how their pass D is. Troy Polamalu is getting older and wasn’t himself last year, and Demaryius Thomas showed us that Ike Taylor isn’t an elite CB.