NFL: AFC North Breakdown

In part three of the MikesPickz NFL Breakdown, we will take a look at the AFC North.

2009 Standings:AFC North
Cincinnati Bengals – 10-6 *Playoffs
Baltimore Ravens – 9-7 *Playoffs
Pittsburgh Steelers – 9-7
Cleveland Browns – 5-11

2010 Preseason:
Baltimore Ravens – 3-1
Pittsburgh Steelers – 3-1
Cincinnati Bengals – 3-2
Cleveland Browns – 2-2

2010 Regular Season Predictions:
Baltimore Ravens – 11-5
Cincinnati Bengals – 9-7
Pittsburgh Steelers – 9-7
Cleveland Browns – 4-12

Team Breakdowns:

Baltimore Ravens:
The Baltimore Ravens had a great off-season. They addressed their main weakness and I think they will win the division because of that. The Ravens have always been a run first team, and I don’t think that will change this season, but they now have weapons at Wide Receiver that must be taken seriously. The addition of Boldin solidifies the short yard passing game. Ray Rice is a great pass catching running back and Derrick Mason has always been reliable. The backfield consisting of LeRon McClain, Ray Rice, and Willis McGahee will be one of the best in the league. The main concern with the Ravens is their defense. Ed Reed will start the season on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list. With Reed out for 6 weeks, the defense is not going to be as strong as it once was. Haloti Ngata and Ray Lewis are still around to defend the run, but the secondary is going to be a weakness.

Cincinnati Bengals:
It is safe to say that the Cincinnati Bengals came out of nowhere last season to win the division. In the off-season they acquired Terrell Owens to complement Chad OchoCinco. I think this might finally be the team that Owens fits into and is not talked about being a headcase. His close friendship with OchoCinco should keep him in-line and provide some entertainment to the fans. I beleive Cedric Benson’s season last year was not a fluke and he is capable of producing similar numbers this season. My main concern with the run game is the lack of a Fullback. The defense which allowed the 4th fewest yards per game last season, should still be considered a strength. They added Adam “Pacman” Jones in the off-season and it will be interesting to see what he can bring to the field.

Pittsburgh Steelers:

The Pittsburgh Steelers received some good news as the preseason came to a close. Commissioner Goodell has decided to reduce Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension from six games to four. The Steelers will start Dennis Dixon in week 1 and it will be interesting to see how the offense plays. They have solid options at Wide Receiver with Mike Wallace and the seemingly ageless Hines Ward. The loss of Santonio Holmes will hurt them, but Wallace will prove to be a solid replacement. Rashard Mendenhall will step into the spotlight this season and he should put together a 1,000 plus yard season. The defense will see Troy Polamalu return, and the Steelers are hoping he can stay healthy. His presence in the secondary is game changing. The Steelers still have LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison at Linebacker and they will ensure that the Steelers can control the opponents running game.

Cleveland Browns:
The Browns added Jake Delhomme this off-season and although it is an improvement over Anderson/Quinn combination disaster of last season, Delhomme is still susceptible to throwing a game changing interception. He is more of a filler until Colt McCoy is ready to take over next season. The Browns have a solid running back in Jerome Harrison, but other than that they do not have many offensive weapons. The defense will still be a weakness, but it should be better than last year (in which they allowed the second most yards per game). The addition of Sheldon Brown at Cornerback is an improvement, but not enough. At least the Browns still have Joshua Cribbs in the return game.

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