It appears that you need to be a man to play in this division, because its always a fight between the top teams.
It's all about two things in the AFC North: Who can win the battle up front and who has the more aggressive defense.
The top teams in the division always pound each other with the run and then try to knock each other out when the defense takes the field.
The Ravens' and Steelers' defenses love rattling their opponents with the hits they deliver. Ball carriers can probably experience more blackouts than college fraternity parties when crossing both of these defenses.
However, it was the Steelers who had their celebration by beating the Ravens in the AFC title game, then taking home a record sixth Super Bowl win against Arizona.
There's no question that the Ravens and Steelers will scrap once again to claim the AFC North crown. There are some questions heading into 2009 though:
Will the Steelers experience a jinx? Can the Ravens overthrow the Steelers? Will the Bengals and Browns join in on this fight to the division and Super Bowl crown?
Here's a look at the AFC North:
Last season: 11-5, 2nd AFC North, lost AFC title game to Steelers
GOOD THING GOING: What was once an offense with so many question marks now looks like it silenced skeptics for the time being.
Joe Flacco finished his rookie year with an 80.3 quarterback rating and helped the Ravens get to the AFC championship. The running game controlled the clock with Willis McGahee and future star Le'Ron McClain combining for 1,573 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Getting Ray Lewis back was significant for the Ravens. Lewis (pictured above, with Haloti Ngata) may not be the same player he once was, but he still leads the defense with his intensity and leadership.
Ed Reed continues to show people he's someone you don't want to throw the ball to, as evidenced by his memorable playoff perfomance against Miami.
PRESENTABLE PROBLEMS: Two key losses for Baltimore on defense were linebacker Bart Scott and defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.
Scott became one of the most feared hitters on the defense and even became a voice in the huddle. He left with Ryan for the New York Jets.
Ryan was one of the central architects of the Ravens' D. He was good about using players and hiding their weaknesses. There's no telling how the Ravens' D will adjust without having Ryan or Scott around.
CRUCIAL GAME(S): The first six games feature road trips to San Diego, New England and Minnesota. The Ravens don't get their hands on hated rival Pittsburg until November 29.
WHAT TO BELIEVE IN 2009: There are two things Baltimore must do to take the next step: Avoid a slump and beat the Steelers.
The year after the Ravens made the playoffs in 2006, they slumped to 4-12 in '07.
The pieces are in place for Baltimore to make a run at the Steelers, as long as they find a way to defeat the defending champs and avoid a one-year collapse.
THE PICK FOR '09: 11-5
Last season: 4-11-1, 3rd AFC North
GOOD THING GOING: Carson Palmer (pictured) is back and healthy again.
When he went down with an injury, the Bengals had no attack on offense. There was no running attack, no passing attack, not even a good verbal attack from Chad "Ocho Cinco" Johnson.
Free agent pickup Laveraneus Coles and first round pick Andre Smith should help make life easier for Palmer. Coles brings speed and hands to the receiving corps, and Smith at left tackle is massive enough to protect Palmer's blindside.
The defense wasn't spectactular, but it did keep the Bengals in most games last season. The unit will get some much needed aggression with safety Roy Williams and second round draft pick Rey Maualuga.
Williams reunites with former Dallas defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, while Maualuga will help strengthen the front seven.
PRESENTABLE PROBLEMS: Williams is a liabilty in coverage and was burned often with the Cowboys. Some teammates even accused Williams for having the "deer in the headlights look" during games.
Maualuga slipped all the way to the second round after scouts noticed he can miss too many tackles. But his aggression was what got him to Cincinnati.
The coaching staff must find a way to keep Andre Smith motivated. Smith made headlines for not being ready for the NFL combine and skipped out.
CRUCIAL GAME(S): The week three home game against Pittsburg will be the first AFC North contest for the Bengals. After that, it's road trips to Cleveland and Baltimore.
WHAT TO BELIEVE IN 2009: If the defense continues to play better and Palmer is healthy, the Bengals should improve from last year's disaster. But if the Bengals succumb to another losing season, Marvin Lewis may be gone.
THE PICK FOR '09: 6-10
Last season: 4-12, 4th AFC North
GOOD THING GOING: New Cleveland head coach Eric Mangini brings playoff experience as a head coach. He took the Jets to the playoffs in his first season with the team.
The Browns also addressed some offensive needs with the first three picks in the draft. Alex Mack should help bolster the offensive line while Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi should help the receivers.
Robiskie comes from Ohio State and is the son of NFL coach Terry Robiskie.
PRESENTABLE PROBLEMS: Eric Mangini. He overstayed his welcome in New York and feuded with quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Brett Favre.
Both the offense and defense were flat last season when it came to the running game. The Browns ranked 28th against the run and 26th running the ball.
Wide Receiver Braylon Edwards' future with Cleveland remains cloudy. Kellen Winslow's loss means uncertainty with whomever becomes the second option in the passing game.
Yet even with injuries and clashes with personnel, the pro-bowler Winslow remains one of the premiere young tight ends in the league.
CRUCIAL GAME(S): The Browns hit the road five times in the first eight weeks of the year. Two of those trips are in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Cleveland has to establish themselves on the road early to be competitive this season.
WHAT TO BELIEVE IN 2009: Even with Mangini, Cleveland fans really have two things going for them right now: Lebron James and the Cavaliers.
THE PICK FOR '09: 4-12
Last season: 12-4, 1st AFC North, Super Bowl XLIII Champions
GOOD THING GOING: 20 of 22 starters return for the defending Super Bowl champs.
Back is linebacker James Harrison (photo), fresh off of his Defensive Player of the Year award and record touchdown interception return in the Super Bowl.
Joining Harrison and the rest of the Steel Curtain is first round pick Evander "Ziggy" Hood, who will help booster the front three Pittsburg uses.
On offense, Ben Roethlisberger now has two Super Bowl rings in his first six years in the league. He not only has Hines Ward, Limas Sweed and Heath Miller to throw to, but Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes.
PRESENTABLE PROBLEMS: The Super Bowl jinx. This not only occurs to the runner-up, but even the champion as well.
Pittsburg missed the playoffs after winning Super Bowl XL. The Colts and Giants both lost their opening round playoff games the year after winning the Lombardi trophy.
The run offense will also need to be better after finishing '08 with a 23rd ranking.
CRUCIAL GAME(S): Pittsburg kicks off 2009 against Tennessee. You have to believe there will be revenge on the Steelers' minds after the Titans won and running back Lendale White stomped on a terrible towel.
Week four is a playoff rematch with San Diego. Then the next big one is the Sunday night match-up with Baltimore on November 29.
WHAT TO BELIEVE IN 2009: The Steelers head into 2009 with the most balance out of any team in the division, perhaps even the league.
With the talent the Steelers boast, missing the Super Bowl and playoffs will be a huge disappointment.
THE PICK FOR '09: 13-3