I know, I know all the posts have been about tomorrow night’s game and this has nothing to do with the Chargers, don’t rip me apart for this.
Anyway, let’s get to the point of this article, the projections. This division is much simpler to me than most people think, no team is absolutely “dominant,” but there is an order of power. I don’ think this division will be too terribly hard to win, but without further ado, here are the projections.
4. The Cleveland Browns: Allow me to start by saying that I thinkCleveland is fairly similar to the Minnesota Vikings in that this team could very soon be on the rise. The running game lost Peyton Hillis who struggled mightily last season after his break-out year in 2010. They replaced him with Trent Richardson, in my opinion the best running back in the draft. We shall see who got the better of the switch; the Chiefs or the Browns. Besides the running game they have a very strong defense; the 10th best in the league last year. With a few good drafts, some good development of Brandon Weeden, and one of the top 10-13 defenses in the league, they may have a chance to regain some power in the division. Not to mention the special teams and still return threat in Josh Cribbs.
3. The Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals did not really have that great a year last year. Sure, they made the postseason, Andy Dalton and A.J Green were nice surprises respectively for them, and they are a young, talented team. The defense was another top ten defense in the league and is also solid. That being said, they didn’t beat one team that made the playoffs in eight chances, and only beat one team with a winning record all year. The defense will help this team win some games and the addition of the “Law Firm” (Benjarvus Green-Ellis if you didn’t know) will help them run the ball. The Bengals will be a middle of the pack team; not good enough to make the playoffs again, but not bad enough to be completely out of contention. If the offense and defense can compliment each other and the team develops well, they could have a nice little recipe for success next year.
2. The Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers and Bengals were about as hard to place as the Dolphins and Jets in the east. That said, I don’t think the Steelers reach the playoffs either. I think the only thing the defense can do right now is age. They’re still going to be good and strong, they may even be top five statistically, and my problem is that may be the only area they’re good in. The offense is taking big blows right now. Rashard Mendenhall is highly questionable with his injuries, taking away a big part of the running game. Mike Wallace is still not with the team and when a team doesn’t have all of the starters, there’s no way they can function completely. The biggest blow on offense though, was to their quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger is terribly underrated and I think he’s top 8 in the league however, he lost continuity in Bruce Arias his long time offensive coordinator. Replacing him is the hated Todd Haley, the adjustment has been publicly difficult for Roethlisberger and Haley had problems meshing with players in KC. As the offense butts heads on what to do, the defense won’t hold up and the Steelers could be this years Bengals without the postseason.
1. The Baltimore Ravens: Last year the Ravens made a huge move to change the order of power in the division, this year they start a new trend. They stand strong on what is still, and will be for at least two more years, a solid defense. What separates them from the Steelers is obviously the offense. Joe Flacco continues to mature and impress me. He really, quietly, led that team to, what should’ve been the Super bowl. Not only “Joe Cool,” but also Ray Rice, and a young, talented group of wide receivers will help the team win games. The defense won’t “have” to be great (even though they will be) and the team will start to thrive. They will establish themselves as a true powerhouse in the AFC this season.
Well that’s it, thanks for reading and waiting. To all those going, enjoy the game, to the rest of us, let’s get ourselves a win. Bottom line, 2-0 sounds great to me :). Till next time: