AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers Have Edge in 3-Horse Race in 2011-12

Cody MeadowsCorrespondent IJune 26, 2011

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 and head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers look on during the National Anthem during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The AFC North is known for smash-mouth football, especially at the top. Usually, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens battle for the crown. This year, a third team will join the race.

The Cleveland Browns will be in contention for the AFC North crown.

Led by first-year head coach Pat Shurmer, a confident Colt McCoy, and a stout offensive line and defense, there is no reason the Browns should lose more than seven games.

Shurmer has 23 years of coaching experience, 12 being in the NFL.

As the offensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams, the team improved in nearly every major category. They also went from 1-15 to 7-9, nearly earning a wildcard birth last season.

This should bode well for an offense that looked much improved at times last season, especially since Colt McCoy shows no fear.

Add to that Josh Cribbs' ability to score in one play, along with Peyton Hillis.

All that being said, the Pittsburgh Steelers have nearly everybody back from a team who lost in the Super Bowl last season. All signs point to Ike Taylor re-signing with the Steelers, if he doesn't the secondary will be in shambles.

Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall will be looking to build upon a disappointing Super Bowl performance, hungry to redeem themselves.

Mendenhall's fumble as the Steelers were moving the ball proved to be the nail in the coffin.

With Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Heath Miller, and Hines Ward, the offense has all of the necessary pieces.

The offensive line proved good enough until the rookie phenom at center, Maurkice Pouncey, went down with injury in the AFC Championship game.

The Baltimore Ravens will do what they always do.

They will win the division or contend for the wildcard spot, only to blow it in the playoffs.

Joe Flacco doesn't have what it takes to win a Super Bowl in my opinion, especially with his defense aging.

The Cincinnati Bengals will be lucky to win five games, rebuilding once again.

If you are a fan of an AFC North team, prepare for a battle!

The lockout with be over in 2-3 weeks from the sound of things, have no fear.



Pittsburgh Steelers - 11-5

Cleveland Browns- 10-6

Baltimore Ravens- 9-7

Cincinnati Bengals- 3- 13