Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 AFC North Predictions

1. Baltimore Ravens (11-5): The main storyline for the Ravens this offseason has been Ray Rice's suspension (or lack there of) where he has been suspended for just two games after physically abusing his wife in a video released by TMZ. Rice was a key part in Baltimore's Super Bowl run two years ago, yet the running back had an off year in 2013 (660 rushing yards, 4 TDs). After being signed to a monster contract in the 2013 offseason, Joe Flacco threw the most interceptions of his career with 22 in 2014, and also recorded the worst passer rating while playing in the NFL after posting a 73.1. Luckily, the Ravens' receiving corp will be one of the best in all of football next season, seeing how they added veteran Steve Smith, while tight end Dennis Pitta will return from a season ending injury that he suffered in 2013 to rejoin receivers Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. Defensively, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, and Elvis Dumervill are all former All-Pros, yet the three defenders are at least 30 years of age, meaning the best days of football are now behind them. This means youngsters like linebacker C.J. Mosley, outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw (both Alabama alums) and short safety Matt Elam will have the opportunity to shine in 2014. If Flacco is able to improve from last year, the Ravens could make a run in the playoffs.

2. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7): Cincinnati's offense revolves around star wide receiver AJ Green, who has caught for more than 95 receptions in each of the past two seasons, and also eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards every year, including his rookie season. Running back Giovani Bernard had an impressive rookie season, and you can expect him to obtain more carries in 2014. Quarterback Andy Dalton may be improving statistically over the course of the past three seasons, but he remains winless in the postseason throughout his career. The defense lost their star defensive tackle Geno Atkins to an ACL injury last year, and he has just recently been taken off of the PUP list. As of right now, Cincinnati's best defensive player is linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who was named to the Pro-Bowl team in just his second season in the league. The AFC North is becoming more competitive with young talent, so I doubt the Bengals will be able to win the division for a second straight year

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-9): Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is now 32 years old, and seeing how his significant size made him a feared passer during his prime, it comes as no surprise that Roethlisberger is becoming more inconsistent as his body begins to wear down. Not having receivers Mike Wallace or Hines Ward has clearly affected Pittsburgh's passing game, but now Antonio Brown has transformed into the star of this offense. Running back Le'Veon Bell has the potential to be a star in the near future, seeing how he rushed for 860 yards with 8 touchdowns in his rookie season. On defense, 8 projected starters are 27 years old or less, which means defensively, the team is very different from the one who defeated Arizona in the Super Bowl six years ago. Second year linebacker Jarvis Jones had just one sack in his rookie season, so hopefully, he will be able to have a more successful sophomore season. Pittsburgh drafted All-American linebacker Ryan Shazier out of Ohio State, as well as defensive end Stephon Tuitt from Notre Dame. With Pittsburgh's new look on both offense and defense, the Steelers should be hoping to reach the .500 mark, not a spot in the playoffs.

4. Cleveland Browns (5-11): The Cleveland Browns have gained more media attention than any other team in football because of the drafting of Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel, as well as All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon's looming suspension. Luckily, the Browns also signed receivers Nate Burleson and Miles Austin, along with running back Ben Tate in order to provide their young quarterback--who has yet to win the starting job--with more offensive weapons. The defense has several big names on their roster, including cornerback Joe Haden, linebacker Paul Kruger, and rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert. The Cleveland Browns are taking steps in the right direction, but are still several years away from competing for a spot in the playoffs. 


  1. Yeah.... they have this all wrong. Pittsburgh will win the division. Pittsburgh wont lose their first four games like they did last year and then compound that with half the team being injured. The defense is vastly improved and a lot younger. If Pittsburgh can get that offensive line in shape, they will be more than fine this year.

  2. The Bengals have already made it three years in a row. If they make it this year it will be their fourth.