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Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (7) and RB Rashard Mendenhall (34).
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
So, how has the Super Bowl hangover been for the losers the past five years? Only two teams (2006 Seahawks, 2009 Cardinals) have won a playoff game, and none have even returned to the conference championship game. Can the Steelers reverse the curse and make another deep playoff run? Common sense says that with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and playmaking safety Troy Polamalu, they have a great shot.
2. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
Trying to unseat the Steelers is no easy task, but Baltimore can do it. The thing is, they probably won't. It will be a close race, to be sure, but when I look at the matchups across the board, I favor Pittsburgh. Joe Flacco has to prove he is in the top tier of quarterbacks, and Ray Lewis certainly is not getting any younger.
3. Cleveland Browns (7-9)
The Browns have not won more than five games in a season since 2007. They'll make improvements, but there's no shot to take down either Pittsburgh or Baltimore. Colt McCoy looked impressive throwing the ball around this preseason, and he knows how to win from his college days. If only that defense was semi-competent. Watch for Peyton Hills to switch from running back to linebacker by midseason.
4. Cincinnati Bengals (5-11)
Another AFC North team, another unproven starter at the helm. Red-headed wunderkind Andy Dalton takes the reigns to the offense after Carson Palmer retired this offseason. Leon Hall is impressive at the corner position, but it's hard to mention the word "impressive" in conjunction with any other Bengals players.