THE AFC North looks one of the tightest NFL divisions but how does Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) see it going?
AFC North | 13th September 2015 – 3rd January 2016
To the AFC North. Just like its NFC equivalent, this is a division know for tough football. It couldn’t have been closer in 2014 and a similar outcome beckons this year.
When it comes to winning games by hard nosed Defence, the Steelers are the originals and the best. 2014 though was the complete opposite as an 11-5 record was built on stellar Offence. Ben Roethlisberger gets hit more often than his Offensive Line (bad thing) but oh what an arm he has and boy does he have some weapons downfield (good thing).
The Steelers may well have the best balanced Offence in the AFC. The season opener against the Pats will tell us a lot about how this group develops. Antonio Brown is favourite for most Receiving Yards in the entire NFL and LeVeon Bell is a beast in the backfield. The one drawback and its a big one, is the toughest schedule in the whole NFL. They wont go 11-5 again, but 9-7 may well win this. I like them a lot and I expect playoffs for sure.
Marv Lewis gets another go at it in Cincy. This team seem to have it all but are always a big disappointment and one and done in the playoffs seems to be the team mantra. Jeremy Hill should have a big season at RB and the dual threat of Giovani Bernard gives the Bengals a huge amount of options.
AJ Green is one of the top wideouts in the game. while the Defence is always good but I don’t see the Bengals making any more progress with the bang average Andy Dalton. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, nor is it particularly accurate. Unless this team surprises me and many others, I see this as the last year for both Lewis and Dalton. A killer schedule will mean 8-8 is an achievement.
How do you blow a 14 point lead against the Patriots? Twice. I still don’t know and I don’t expect Coach Harbaugh knows either. Joe Flacco resumes his position as the most under rated QB the game has known. OK, he’s not elite, but this guy takes so much abuse and just keeps getting it done year after year. His biggest issue will be a receiving corps led by the ageing Steve Smith.
The upside is Justin Forsett at Running Back. This team actually rated 12th in the NFL on Offence and 8th on Defence. After the retirement of the legendary Ray Lewis and the departure of Haloti Ngata, six out of seven years in the playoffs should become seven out of eight. I think an easier schedule could well see them winning the Division, perhaps a game ahead of Pittsburgh.
Any idea how Cleveland won seven games last year? Nope, me neither. Journeyman QB Josh McCown will be under centre, whilst the whole of Cleveland waits for Johnny Manziel to develop into an NFL player. Not sure that is going to happen anytime soon.
I would love these perenial losers to turn things around but with one of the toughest schedules out there in a horribly competitive division, it’s going to be so tough. Johnny Football will be a major distraction all year. I dont see this going well. 4-12 anyone?
AFC North – Baltimore Ravens/Pittsburgh Steelers Dual Forecast (9/5 Betfred)