We have one more preseason game to suffer through before games start to matter. Every media outlet is predicting who will win, who will lose, and who will be the dark horse in every division. The AFC North is loaded with talent but for 2 teams, they will end their season in disappointment and in the regular season.
1) The Cincinnati Bengals will be the team to beat in the Division. Their first string offense and defense is proving to be as complete as teams like the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers. They should be competing for a first week by come December and they could get it. They have a tough road ahead playing the Patriots in New England and the New Orleans Saints in Cincinnati but it isn’t impossible. The Bengals should win at least 10 games but I am prediction 12 wins with a 4-2 division record.
2) The Baltimore Ravens should get a wild card spot or at least be in contention until the end. They will be at 3-3 in the division and should finish 9-7 with key losses to the Saints, Colts, and Panthers. They will lose to the Bengals in a split but there is a possibility they could be swept. They should split with the Steelers and Browns will put us a strong fight to try a split but have the ability to sweep. Their defense will be the key in winning games this year, their offense will only be slightly above average.
3) The Pittsburgh Steelers will miss the playoffs again. The more I watch this team from the steel city, the more I question my initial thought of 8-8 this season. If they continue the play they displayed against Philadelphia, then this may be a very long season. I could see a 6-10 record. Big Ben will be looking for one more contract but they may need a Plan B after this year is over.
4) The Cleveland Browns will have a quarterback controversy as long as Johnny Manziel is on the bench. They will also continue to lose as long as they do not have a true franchise quarterback. Manziel and Brian Hoyer will not be even close to the answer. In fact, the answer may not even be on the team at this point. This team however will finish another sub-prime year at 5-11 and will be 1-5 in the division splitting with the Steelers.
Although the standings don’t look like anything to crazy, the Steelers under .500 will have Yinzer’s yelling and the Dog Pound will be screaming foul again this year. The Ravens could be the shocker but their run game leaves something to be desired and their defense went from old to young very quick, which could backfire. The Bengals should be the steady team out of the AFC North for their 4 year in a row.