Sean Higgs AFC North Preview
Here we go with another AFC Preview and we head to the rugged AFC North.
CINCINNATI BENGALS - In my eyes, this is a make or break year for HC Marvin Lewis. The Red Rocket has taken this team to the playoffs the last few years. It is time for them to get over the 1st round hump and the pieces are in place. AJ Green is primed to really take his game to the next level. Marvin Jones caught 10 TDs last year. I like Gresham at TE. The backfield is stacked with Benjarvis Green (trade rumors) and Giovani Bernard. Add in rookie Jeremy Hill from LSU and the offense should really move the ball. The defense is very good unit also. I loved when the stole Burfict in the draft. Another one of those cases where teams shy away from a guy with a perceived problem. Darqueze Dennard should help right from the jump at corner.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS - This team went 8-8 last year, 6-2 down the stretch. I actually had these guys going under their posted win total this year at first. But I do like their veteran WR signings. Lance Moore from NO and Darius Bey from Oakland aren't big sexy names. But they can play. The Steelers, like the Patriots, seem to find guys who fit their scheme. Big Ben gets some help in the backfield with big bruiser back Blount coming over from NE. The defense needs to continue to improve if they are to challenge the Bengals for the division and to make the playoffs.
BALTIMORE RAVENS - I think this guys don't get to .500 this year. I know they signed Steve Smith at WR, but I think Flacco will be hard pressed to win games this year. Ray Rice only gets 2 games for beating his girl, which is an outrage. I mean, if he does something like that to a 275 guy in pads, he would get 4 games! Anyway. The guy was barely rushing for 3 yards a carry LY. Not sure with all the off field issues he will be breaking any rushing records. Even using their first 3 picks on defense, I think the Ravens are a little long in the tooth. Suggs, Dumervil and Ngata are a bit older. I think this team falls again this season.
CLEVELAND BROWNS - Oh my. Who is catching the ball for this team? Mile Austin and Nate Burleson? I like Austin. I followed him in Dallas. But the guy has some injury concerns. And let's be honest. Even if you are a Romo hater, the guy is head and shoulders above Hoyer or Manziel. And, are you really sold on Hoyer after a couple games. The defense is for real and will keep this team in games. But that is simply because the offense is good for about 10ppg while the defense won't give up much. I will be looking at Under Totals for all Browns games this season.
Be sure to check back daily for my NFL Division Previews - SEAN HIGGS