The AFC North is a division that has its ups and downs every year. This year, expect the race for the division crown to be more intense. Here are the predictions and which team is best on which side of the field:
Best Offense: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers pose one of the best offenses in the league, but it is without a doubt that they are one of the best in the division. Posing a triple threat with Ben Roethlisberger as the QB, Le’veon Bell as the RB, and Antonio Brown as the WR, all Pro-Bowlers, the Steelers run away with the best offense. Not to mention, they have new and upcoming receivers who have been playing well in training camps, such as Juju Smith-Schuster, who had a fantastic first year, and rookie James Washington. The Steelers also have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Expect the Steelers’ offense to be dynamic once again.
Best Defense: Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have one of the best defenses in the division, as they have all underrated players at their respective positions. With a secondary comprised of Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, Eric Weddle, and Tony Jefferson, coupled with the front seven led by Terell Suggs and CJ Mosley, the Ravens easily have one of the best defenses in the divisions, even the league. Although they did lose their DC Dean Pees to the Titans, John Harbaugh has always been a defensive mastermind and will count on his defense once again to lead the team and the inconsistent offense.
Question Mark: Killer Bs Breakup?
The Steelers could be headed towards a split in the offense, as Le’veon Bell’s agent has stated that this will likely be the last year for him as a Steeler. Ben Roethlisberger also stated that he has already been contemplating retirement. Brown is the only one that has stood committed towards the Steelers, as he signed a contract extension a few years back. The chemistry could also be broken up and many arguments can arise within this group. Keep an eye on the Bell, Ben, and Brown as the season goes on.
Breakout Player: Alex Collins
Alex Collins is a player bound to break out this season. With a QB like Joe Flacco, the Ravens are going to pound the ball with Collins for the majority of the season. No disrespect to Flacco, but his passing has been inconsistent as the season went on. With the amount of potential Collins produces, he can become a major factor. With his quickness and rough running style, it will be very tough for defenses to bring him down, especially with the new tackling rule implemented this year.
Hot Seat: Hue Jackson
With the way the roster is constructed, the Browns have the capability to exceed many expectations. If that’s not the case, however, Hue Jackson will be shown the way out of the organization. Only winning one game over the past two years, and that one win was off a missed field goal. The roster is very good to win games but if Hue Jackson performs below expectations or even at expectations, he could be fired. It wouldn’t be surprising that the Browns will start fresh in the organization after this season if Jackson fails to win a certain number of games.
Predictions: Steelers 11-5, Ravens 8-8, Bengals 7-9, Browns 6-10
Although the Browns improved heavily on both sides of the field, they still do not pose enough talent to be above 500. However, they will finally win some games, putting them in a great position for the future. The Steelers will most likely take the division, given how more talent and fewer holes they have around the team. The Ravens will be 8-8 and the Bengals, just like the Browns, will be below 500. The Bengals and Ravens are one of the teams to play spoiler in the division and could quite possibly steal a couple games from the division.