AFC North Shakedown

Nick LutkenhouseContributor ISeptember 8, 2008

Alright week 1 is in the bags and we now have a clear(ish) picture of what teams are for real and which are pretending.  With surprising injuries and game results some opinions have changed and doors opened.  Here's how it will effect the potential playoff picture and what will happen in the AFC North as a result? 

Patriots vs Cowboys in the Superbowl! That was the popular pick but now the Patriots might struggle to even make the playoffs which means teams that perhaps could be written off as barely missing the Wildcard Spot (yes that's you Browns and Bengals!) now have a new found reason to fight. 

So how will the AFC North Finish given our insight of week 1? Here's a pretty good guess:


Well the Steelers have the backing of the most dedicated fans in football and the confidence in their newly resigned long term QB in Big Ben.  They now know the Browns are a team with swagger and wont be surprised going into big games.  They have a pretty tough schedule so look for them to win plenty early on but loosing a few toward the end.  As long as they stay healthy they should win the division


Who are the Browns this year?  With Stallworth injured and no report of how bad it is we don't really know now do we!  If the Browns get good performance from their QB (whether Quinn or Anderson) and Stallworth returns within a week or two they should be fine.  Jamal Lewis is their one bright spot as their offense trudged through a tough 1st game.  Expect the Browns to play .500 football for the first 6 or 7 weeks but bust out toward the middle to take a positive season. Playoffs? Well Braylon Edward will have to catch more then 2 passes a game and the defense has to stop letting up 10 yard runs ever 2nd down for that to be in the picture.


It seems that the Ravens hold the key to their own fate this season but with an inexperience QB I just don't see them pulling a positive record out.  They have a solid defense and scored the 2nd best rushing performance of the 1st week and an impressive 358 total yards.  They are a capable team but look for a season pointing towards just that, a capable future. 


What has happened to the Bengals lately?  They went from a team bound for glory to group of guys having trouble with a shaky Ravens team.  They have lost their fan favorite back in Rudi Johnson and the performance by Chad and TJ was unacceptable.  Don't get me wrong the Bengals have the potential to make a run however with Palmer more reserved then ever the hopes should not be on high as the Bengals attempt to surprise me this year.


So after Week 1 how should you be feeling about your beloved (or hated) AFC North Team?

If Your a Steelers fan get loud because you just ran the score up in your first week and are headed to the Dog Pound to see if the Browns are really a threat this year or just a pretender. A-

If your a Browns fan be concerned.  Why? Is Derek Anderson really your QB or should the Quinn Era start sooner then expected?  Or how about the status of Stallworths Quad and the deplorable defense?  Being a Browns fan myself I hope that this was similar to last years opener and that they shape up which I believe then can but this coming test against the Steelers should be a good indication of if its panic time or not just yet. C-

If your a Ravens fan things arn't so bad at the moment.  Sure you have a questionable QB but your defense still has that guy by the name of Ray Lewis right?  And your running game just through up massive yards right?  Well perhaps that could lift some of the QB's pressure.  Look for a rocky but promising season. B

Bengals fan? Well Hope that their showing this weekend was just a fluke, but if it wasn't then changes are going to be made. Carson Palmer is a great QB and just needs to get his swagger back but with a soft defense and some internal problems the next few games will show if they should shape up or ship out.  C-

Got something to say? Let me know!  Look for an upcoming article on how Brady's Injury effects the Playoff picture and should an AFC North Team be excited for the improved opportunity at the Wild Card?