AFC North: Equal Playing Field

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Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Ronnie Staley (Notre Dame) is selected by the Baltimore Ravens as the number six overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 28, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Ronnie Staley (Notre Dame) is selected by the Baltimore Ravens as the number six overall pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at Auditorium Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

After the aftermath of the NFL Draft, and congratulating a few personal friends on being selected or picked up, it is time to look at the AFC North as a whole.

Arguably the best division year in and year out, just got even better after draft weekend. In fact, the AFC North has improved so much that there’s no clear cut team that’s the favorite to win the divisional crown.

So far this decade, the Bengals, Ravens and Steelers have each won the division twice. During that time, the Steelers reached Super Bowl XLV and reached the playoffs three times after. The Ravens reached the AFC Championship in 2011, won Super Bowl XLVII in 2012 as well as the playoffs in 2014. As we all know, the Bengals reached the playoffs five years in a row and the Browns have been relatively irrelevant yet, always somehow competitive within the division.

If we’re just talking about divisional crowns, the AFC North is headed into the 2016 season with a three way tie for first. The Ravens are looking to rebound after a disastrous 2015 season riddled with injuries. Yet, time and another great off-season by Ozzie Newsome will allow the Ravens to be back in the race for the crown.

"“In a typical draft for Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta, the Ravens hit a big need early and then found a way to move down the board and add picks, where they got a ton of value. Grade: A” per ESPN Insider."

Before a draft that saw player such as Ronnie Stanley, Tavon Young, Kenneth Dixon and Keenen Reynolds headed to bird city, the Ravens signed Mike Wallace, Trent Richardson, Ben Watson and hit big on Safety Eric Weddle. As you can see, that 5-11 record from last season will not be as bad this season.

Next: Pittsburgh Steelers

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