"Rothlesberger, has time. Throws for the back of the end zone, and it is... Caught for a Touchdown by Holmes! Unbelievable!"
Last year, the AFC North produced the Super bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. This gave them an NFL record sixth Superbowl in Franchise history. It may have been the most exciting end to a season in the history of the NFL, but that's what it was, the End!
Now it is a new season, and we are quickly approaching it. It is only three months before preseason kicks off and the 2009 season is underway. So what will this year produce? That is the point of this series.
Over the next nine weeks, I will be giving an in-depth look at each division, with a conclusion of an in-depth look at the league. This week will be a preview of the AFC North.
First off is last year's division winning, and Superbowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers.
Coming off a Super Bowl winning seasons, the first thing people think is, "Can they repeat?" This is a question that head coach Mike Tomlin will not accept or answer.
In his words, he will be fielding a whole new team this year. This is very apparent through his actions. The Steelers have 11 out of 11 offensive starters returning, and 10 out of 11 defensive starters returning. (Larry Foote was released to open spot for Lawrence Timmons, who split time with Foote.)
When you look at the Steelers, you can obviously see that they are just as good, if not better than last year.
They still have stuff to learn, but with the addition of Ziggy Hood through the draft, and the resigning of James Harrison, don't be surprised to see them do just as good, if not better than last year.
Last year, Joe Flacco burst on to the scene and helped his team bounce back from a 5-11 record and reverse their fate with an 11-5 record. Rookie head coach John Harbaugh then coached the team to the AFC Championship, where they lost to the soon-to-be Superbowl champion Steelers.
This offseason, the Ravens were faced with a complicated situation. All three of their star linebackers' contracts expired. They were lucky enough to keep Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, but they were upset that they lost Bart Suggs to the Jets along with their deffensive coordinator Rex Ryan.
In this April's NFL Draft, they drafted tackle Michael Oher out of Ole' Miss. At their pick, it was a tremendous value.
In this upcoming year, the Ravens look to have another great season, and they hope they can get past rival Pittsburgh for the divisional win.
This past year, the Cincinnati Bengals had high expectations once again. Early in the season, injury prone QB Carson Palmer went down...again. This was the start to a dismal season for the team, earning them the sixth choice in the Draft.
With this pick, they chose offensive tackle Andre Smith. Smith had a controversial offseason, which made it no surprise that he ended up in Cincinnati.
Another of the many controversial Bengals is having an exciting offseason. Chad Ochocinco obviously want out. He has made it clear that he wants to leave.
Fellow reciever T.J. Houshmandzadeh signed with the Seahawks this offseason. This has pretty much assured that Chad Ochocinco will not get out of Cinci until his contract runs out in 2011.
With a great draft, the Bengals seem to have a great start in a rebuilding year. In a few years, Marvin Lewis should help the team get better, if he gets the chance.
Until then, it looks like the Bengals will stay on the bottom half of this division.
In 2008, the Browns faced one of the most difficult situations in the history of the NFL. They had three, yes, THREE quarterbacks on placed on IR in the same season. The three were Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, and Ken Dorsey.
This led to the end of an era in Cleveland. Following the season, head coach Romeo Cromell was fired. Former Jets' head coach Eric Mangini was hired to replace him.
After an offseason that left Browns fans wondering if management chose the right man for the job, Mangini left fans scratching their head once again.
In the draft, the Browns traded their 1st round pick not once, not twice, but three times. First, they traded from fifth to17th. Next, they traded from 17th to 19th. Then, they traded from 19th to 21st! All of this happened only to draft center Alex Mack, who was a projected second round pick!
Since then, the main question in Cleveland has been the QB situation. Everybody, and I mean everybody thinks Brady Quinn should win the job, but "Mangenious" want to give Derek Anderson a shot. If he gives Anderson the job, we'll see how long he stays with the Browns.
In the AFC North, there seems to be a gap between the top two and the bottom two. Who will win the division? Steelers or Ravens? Who will be last? Brown or Bengals? Well, here's my opinion:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. Cincinnati Bengals
4. Cleveland Browns
I can't go against the Steelers in the division. The Ravens would probably be first in many divisions, but not this one. As for the Browns, I just cant see them doing anything. With an easy schedule, it think the Bengals will squeak out one or two more wins and take the third spot.
Thanks for reading! Here is the schedule for the series:
*May 17: AFC North
*May 23/24: NFC North
*May 30/31: AFC South
*June 6/7: NFC South
*June 13/14: AFC West
*June 20/21: NFC West
*June 27/28: AFC East
*July 4/5: NFC East
July 11/12: League Wrap-up
* - Slide Show