Baltimore Ravens: 5-11 in 2015 (3rd in AFC North)
The Baltimore Ravens were easily one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL last year. The Ravens seemed to find new ways to lose games every week. Of the Ravens 11 losses in 2015, nine of them were within one score. With Baltimore starting this season much healthier than last year, expect some big improvements. That is especially true in the passing game. The Ravens have given Joe Flacco some very promising deep ball targets. That will come in handy in those close finishes that Baltimore lost in 2015. The Ravens should be in the running to take the division. However, I don’t think they are quite ready to unseat the Steelers.
Prediction: 10-6 (2nd in AFC North)
Cincinnati Bengals: 12-4 in 2015 (1st in AFC North)
The defending AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals took some big hits in the offseason. The Bengals lost two of their top wide receivers. Though Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones were not big names, anyone following the team knows that the two made a significant impact. The Bengals still have AJ Green, but teams will key in on him. Tight end Tyler Eifert is still dealing with an ankle injury that will keep him out for some time. That severely limits the Bengals weapons on offense. I see a big fall for the Bengals this year. The defense will keep them competitive, but the offense will struggle to score points. Expect calls for Andy Dalton to be released…again. It will be interesting to see if the Bengals can overcome some big hurdles.
Prediction: 8-8 (3rd in AFC North)
Cleveland Browns: 3-13 in 2015 (4th in AFC North)
The Cleveland Browns may set records in futility this year. It is hard to get excited about any aspect of this team. Apart from a few recognizable names, Cleveland football is going to be very tough to watch this year. Sure, that is expected with the franchise rebuilding (again). However, the Cleveland ownership has not shown a lot of patience. This experiment in the front office may not get time to develop. That doesn’t bode well for the coaching staff or players on the field either. The Browns let go of an awful lot of talent in the offseason, and it cannot be said that they brought in sufficient replacements. The biggest additions were quarterback Robert Griffin III and wide receiver Josh Gordon, looking to revive their careers. Both players are long-shots to produce much this season. All in all, this looks to be a very bad year for football in Cleveland. At least basketball season isn’t too far off.
Prediction: 1-15 (4th in AFC North)
Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-6 in 2015 (2nd in AFC North)
It’s hard to look at the Pittsburgh Steelers and not be impressed with the weapons they have assembled. Even without wide receiver Martavis Bryant and running back Le’Veon Bell, this team has some serious firepower. The defense isn’t what it once was, and the Steelers secondary is still suspect. However, the ability of this team to put points on the board is pretty much unparalleled in the NFL right now. The Steelers may stumble a little bit coming out of the gate, but they should be a popular pick for a deep playoff run. I see a return to the top of the division brewing here, and I think Pittsburgh will hold off a rebounding Baltimore Ravens squad. Barring any unforeseen injury calamities, the AFC North (and maybe more) should belong to the Steelers.
Prediction: 11-5 (1st in AFC North)
Next: AFC South