The AFC North seems to be a two-team race, as the Pittsburgh Steelers look to hold off the upstart Cleveland Browns. The Bengals and Ravens will put up a fight and have some playmakers, but there is no question that they are not as talented top to bottom as the Steelers and Browns. Here we go with our AFC North Predictions for 2008:
Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6: The issues for the Steelers are on the O-line as well as the secondary, which for sure can give up big plays. The O-line simply has to do a better job for QB Ben Roethlisberger, and the secondary has to cover better to allow the D-line and LB’s time to get to the QB. They have a solid offense in terms of skill players with Roethlisberger leading the way. Look for the Steelers with a very tough schedule to win games early and feast on the AFC North opponents and then have trouble with heavyweights like the Cowboys, Colts, Pats and Chargers in the second half of the season.
Cleveland Browns 9-7: Something tells me that they are not as good as the hype they are getting. Let’s start with the secondary, which is not deep at all and can allow bunches of points. Then there is the offense, which has talent, but can also stop itself at times, and did so during the month of December last year when they needed to win just one game vs the lowly Bengals to make the playoffs. They have a lot of primetime games, and for a young team, that can be a bad thing, and it will be.
Cincinnati Bengals 6-10: This is a classic team with a lot of talent, but no direction. From a great QB in Carson Palmer to solid WR’s, the Bengals can make teams sweat with the players on the field. Problem is they make dumb mistakes, and the defense usually gives up any momentum the offesne gets and then some. Another down season, which by all indications say it’s going to be, is going to mean some big changes for this team that needs a kick in the pants.
Baltimore Ravens 5-11: New coach John Harbaugh is in for a rough first season, as he and the team tries to be competitve in the first season of the Harbaugh Era. They have issues at the QB spot, and the O-line is going to also struggle with new players being phased in. The defense is aging, and while the players with names remain, they showed last season that they have lost a step, and it’s going to be tough for them to regain that AFC North championship form of just two years ago when they were 13-3 and allowed just 201 points.