2011 AFC North Preview & Predictions
The pride of the AFC North returns basically every starter from last season. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will not miss any games, unlike last year, and the Steelers’ defense is once again projected to be among the league’s best. The Steelers aren’t without issues though, as losing Flozell Adams and Max Starks from an already shaky offensive line will definitely take its toll throughout the course of the season. Overall, I think the Steelers will coast to another first place finish within the division.
Key Arrivals – John Malecki, John Gilmore
Key Departures – Flozell Adams, Max Starks, Matt Spaeth
Prediction – 12-4/First in AFC North
The Ravens lost a ton of veteran talent this off-season and haven’t filled many of their needs. Their secondary continues to be questionable at best and their receiving core is extremely thin, aside from Boldin. Ray Rice will be asked to shoulder most of the offensive production while the defense hopes they can keep them in games even though their getting older by the day. In the end, I see the Ravens dropping off a bit from last season.
Key Arrivals – Ricky Williams, Bernard Pollard, Vonta Leach, Lee Evans
Key Departures – Willis McGahee, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Kelly Gregg, Marc Bulger, Chris Chester, Jared Gaither, Le’Ron McClain, Fabian Washington
Prediction – 10-6/Second in AFC North
The Browns made great strides last season, dismantling the New England Patriots and taking countless other games down to the wire. Colt McCoy got some much-needed experience down the stretch and built up a nice rapport with his tight-ends. Running back Peyton Hillis burst onto the scene as well, trucking defenders left and right on his way to a phenomenal season. The Browns are trending up and their future looks bright, but they just don’t have enough weapons on offense and lack experience on defense.
Key Arrivals – John Greco, Usama Young,
Key Departures – Jake Delhomme, Eric Alexander, Blake Costanzo, Abram Elam, Sabby Piscitelli, Matt Roth, Lawrence Vickers, Eric Wright
Prediction – 6-10/Third in AFC North
The Bengals are an absolute mess. They lost both Ochocinco and T.O. in the off-season to go along with the sudden retirement of starting quarterback Carson Palmer. Rookie Andy Dalton and journeyman Bruce Gradkowski will battle it out for the starting job at QB while running back Cedric Benson takes on the role as the Bengals’ only weapon on offense. However, the Bengals do have an above average defense which will hopefully, for Marvin Lewis’ sake, keep them in some games.
Key Arrivals – Bo Scaife, Manny Lawson, Max Jean-Gilles, Nate Clements, Bruce Gradkowski
Key Departures – Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, Antwan Odom, Dhani Jones, Johnathan Joseph, Roy Williams, Chinedum Ndukwe
Prediction – 3-13/Last in AFC North