With the preseason finally underway, it’s almost time for yet another season of football. It’s the time of year when every team is 0-0 and each team has the chance to win the Super Bowl (Well, except for the Browns, but we will get to that later.)
A lot of teams have the potential to make the playoffs so here’s how it might just go down. Part one of this series looks at the AFC North.
Since the defending world champs are in this division, many people would pick them to be the champions of the frigid AFC North, but it may not happen that way.
Cincinnati Bengals — Although admittedly biased, this team has a good chance this year. They appeared to have an amazing draft and added some key free agents. The Bengals are getting a committed running back and hopefully a healthy quarterback as well.
They do have a fairly tough schedule, playing the defending champs twice and a San Diego team that looks great this season. The Bengals should be able to pull off at least 8 wins with more if they keep games against Pittsburgh, San Diego, and Baltimore.
Cleveland Browns — This team is still in the rebuilding phase. With Stallworth going down for the season and probably for a long time, they will really need another wide receiver to catch balls not thrown to Edwards.
Also, with a close starting quarterback race, they still really aren’t sure if Quinn or Anderson is going to start. Dueling backs almost never works, so they need to nail that down pretty quickly. Overall, they will more than likely finish last this season in the north.
Baltimore Ravens — This is still a solid football team. With an amazing year by Joe Flacco last season, it will be interesting to see how he can top himself this season, or if he even can. They still have the top notch defense, and the running back trio of Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and Le'Ron McClain is looking as good as they were last season.
The one question concerns the ageing wide receivers. After Mason retires (again), it’s hard to say that they have a definitive two and three that will move up. However, they have a simple schedule that lets them play four of their last seven games at home, which is basically home field advantage as they try and make the playoffs.
It will be interesting to see if that helps them out or if they fall on their face in front of their fans.
Pittsburgh Steelers — Well, there really isn’t that much to say. This team won it all last year, and they are looking the same as they were last year only better. They are getting Rashard Mendenhall back this season, who looked very good until an injury sidelined him last season. It gives them a nice one-two punch for a running game.
The passing game also is looking great this season and hopefully Ben Roethlisberger can put this past off season behind him and be the quarterback he is. It seems like controversy follows him every off season so hopefully it will not get to him, and he will continue to put up solid numbers.
The defense is of course the centerpiece of this team. This team has always had a good defense, and this team is as good as we have seen in some time.
With players like Deshea Townsend, Ike Taylor, and Troy Polamalu, this team is looking for the pick on every play. If they have as good as of season this season as last year, they will once again be playing in January and maybe even February.