We all know that the Cincinnati Bengals won the AFC North crown for only the second time since the AFC North came into existence. And once again, they exited the playoffs before another team in the division, even though they were at home, and the opposition was on the road.
The purpose of this article is not to rate which team is better, but it is to compare each team at each position. For each position, each team will be graded one to four. Four points will be given to each team that finishes last, while one point will be given to each team that finished first. Like in Golf, the lowest score wins!
1. Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger . In his six seasons, Ben has led the Steelers to the playoffs four times. He has also won Rookie of the Year, TWO Super Bowls, has already set most team records, and has more wins in his first five years than any other active quarterback with the exception of Tom Brady.
2. Baltimore Ravens, Joe Flacco . In Flacco's first two seasons, he has led the Ravens to a 3-1 playoff record. The three wins came against the Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, and New England Patriots.
3. Cincinnati Bengals, Carson Palmer. The Bengals lived and died based on their running game and defense. The Bengals did not throw the ball all that well this year, and Palmer has not been the same since his injury last year.
4. Cleveland Browns, Derek Anderson / Brady Quinn. The Browns are in a division with three great QBs, and they can not decide who is the starter, IF either Anderson or Quinn are even on the roster next year.
1. Baltimore Ravens, Ray Rice. Rice single-handedly defeated the New England Patriots in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Rice made his first Pro Bowl this year and is on his way to an amazing career.
2. Cincinnati Bengals , Cedric Benson. Since resurrecting his career after being banished from the Bears, Benson has new life in Cincinnati. Can he continue this pace? We will see, but right now he has Cincy in the two spot!
3. Pittsburgh Steelers, Rashard Mendenhall. After sitting most of the first five games, Mendenhall showed why the Steelers made him a first round pick. Mendenhall rushed for over 1,000 yards after not being involved in the first five.
4. Cleveland Browns, Jerome Harrison. Yes, Harrison played great during the Browns' four game winning streak to end the year, but that is not enough to pass anyone in the rest of the division. The Browns do have something to look forward to with Harrison, as it looks like their running back questions have been answered.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace. With TWO Super Bowl MVPs, it is hard not to have the Steelers in the top spot. Rookie Mike Wallace is a deep threat unlike any the Steelers have ever had.
2. Cincinnati Bengals, Chad Ochocinco , Laveraneus Coles, Andre Caldwell. The Bengals lost probably the best three receiver with the death of Chris Henry. The rest of the Bengals suffered due to Carson Palmer having his worst season (other than the one he was injured).
3. Cleveland Browns, Josh Cribbs , Mohamed Massaquoi , Brian Robiskie . The Browns were one of the worst passing teams in the NFL, but that had EVERYTHING to do with the QB play. This is a young group and could one day become elite.
4. Baltimore Ravens, Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Kelly Washington. The growth of Joe Flacco is going to depend on the Ravens bringing in someone to help him. The difference between the Ravens and Browns is, the Browns are young and getting better, and the Ravens are not.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers, Heath Miller. Miller is working his way to becoming one of the best in the NFL. As he grows with Roethlisberger , Miller will be in the Pro Bowl one day.
2. Baltimore Ravens, Todd Heap. Though he is nearing the end of his career, Heap can still get it done. Always a threat in the Red Zone, Heap is known as a defense killer. Corners are too small to cover him, and line backers are too slow.
3. Cleveland Browns, Steve Heiden . Though there were not that many passes completed in Cleveland, Heiden has shown over his career that he can still play. If the Browns had someone who could throw the ball, maybe he would have done better.
4. Cincinnati Bengals, JP Foschi . Who you might ask? And it would be a fair question. Foschi lead the Bengals TEs in receptions.
1. Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens line is the reason they are still alive in the playoffs today. They control the line of scrimmage and bull defenders. With the addition of Michael Oher , they are that much better.
2. Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals offensive line showed this year that they were one of the best units of the team, creating much running room for C. Benson.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers. Though the unit does not get much respect outside of Ben Roethlisberger , they did block well enough this year for the skill position players to set most of the Steelers' records.
4. Cleveland Browns. The left side of the line is good, but the right side could be playing in the UFL .
If you disagree with me, change my mind in the comments. If you give a good enough argument, I reserve the right to change the rankings.
To see the defensive rankings, click here.