Today’s installment of the Roost’s NFL Preview, “Eight Divisions in Eight Days,” takes a look at the AFC North.
1. Baltimore Ravens
Despite their tough schedule (Weeks 12-14 include a road trip to San Diego and then two home games against New England and the Colts), the Ravens should win this division and secure the fourth playoff berth in the AFC. The defense was absolutely insane last year, and even without Adalius Thomas, there’s no reason to think they can’t lead the league in pretty much of all of the major stat categories again. And no, I’m not going to mention that slimeball new runningback they just traded fo–oops.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
That’s right, the Steelers are back. Couple a healthy Ben Roethlisberger with an MVP season for Troy Polamalu, and I see the Steelers locking up that first wild card spot in the AFC. The Bengals may be a sexier pick here, but everyone seems to forget that the Steelers were the defending champs going into last season. They faced a plethora of distractions, including Big Ben’s motorcycle wreck and Bill Cowher’s impending retirement that led to their disappointing season. New coach Mike Tomlin should be able to get the team focused and in shape to make another serious push for the postseason.
3. Cincinati Bengals
Just because they’re finishing in third doesn’t mean they’re going to suck. I think they can seriously make a push for the Wild Card, but getting swept by the Steelers isn’t going to help
their cause. Just a prediction. Carson Palmer is nasty and I love how 85 is already talking trash, but I just can’t see this team leapfrogging over the Ravens or the Steelers, at least not this year at least.
4. Cleveland Browns
They’re going to be soooo bad. They’ll have a Top 3 pick again in the draft I bet, and they won’t even be able to use it since they traded it away to get backup Brady Quinn this year. Good news for Dallas. This team could go 1-15 and I’m not sure anyone would be totally shocked. Looks to me like the curtain on the Romeo Crennell era may be drawing to a close…