Prepare to shield your eyes ladies and gentlemen, this could get ugly!! Listen, football is football. If the Cleveland Browns and the Jacksonville Jaguars are playing, I’m watching, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be pretty. And that leads us seamlessly into Dave’s AFC North Preview….
Last Season’s Standings:
Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-5
Baltimore Ravens: 8-8
Cincinnati Bengals: 6-9-1
Cleveland Browns: 1-15
To the bottom of the barrel we go….
I’ve run out of ways to make fun of the Cleveland Browns (says the Jets’ fan), so I’m going to skip right to the meat and potatoes. Seriously though — the Browns are so historically bad, sometimes I wonder if they’re doing this on purpose (?). The Browns haven’t had a winning record since 2007 (10-6). They haven’t made the playoffs since 2002 (lost in the Wild Card Game). And they haven’t won the AFC North Division since 1989!! That’s a BAD meatball!! Despite having the #1 overall pick in the draft, again, the Browns will continue their streak of last place finishes (6 years running) in the dreadful AFC North.
Key Additions: Myles Garrett (Draft), Calvin Pryor, DeShone Kizer (Draft)
Key Losses: Demario Davis, Josh McCown, Gary Barnidge
Did I mention this division will be bad?? Just 3 short years ago, the AFC had the honor of sending 3 teams to the playoffs. This year..not so much. The Baltimore Ravens are going to regress this year. Their wildly overpaid quarterback, Joe Flacco, is dealing with a back injury and could miss anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks of the regular season. Considering their back-up quarterback (Ryan Mallett) is the worst quarterback in the NFL, I don’t like their chances. If it’s any consolation prize, at least you’re not the Browns….
Key Additions: Danny Woodhead, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Carr
Key Losses: Elvis Dumervil, Dennis Pitta, Kamar Aiken
The Cincinnati Bengals are a hard team to figure out. In 2015, they were 12-4 (1st in the AFC North). In 2016, they were 6-9-1 (3rd in the AFC North). With consistency at the quarterback position, and a good defense, it’s odd to see a team fluctuate this much. Even when the Bengals showed flashes of sustainable success, they underachieved. For 5 consecutive seasons (2011-2015), they lost in the 1st round of the playoffs. This is a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1990 and has never won a Super Bowl. 2017 will not shatter either of those streaks. Sorry Bengals fans. Man, I feel like I’m sending out condolence letters left and right here.
Key Additions: Joe Mixon (Draft), Andre Smith, Kevin Minter
Key Losses: Domata Peko, Rex Burkhead, Karlos Dansby
We’ll call them, Patriots Lite. For those who haven’t noticed because they were counting Tom Brady’s Super Bowl rings, the Pittsburgh Steelers have quietly dominated the AFC North. The Steelers have not finished under .500 since 2003 (6-10). They have made the playoffs 9 times over that span, and have won 2 Super Bowls (in 3 appearances). Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and hopefully Le’Veon Bell will coast to another AFC North division title this year. The question is, can they beat the New England Patriots come January??
Key Additions: Knile Davis, Justin Hunter, Coty Sensabaugh
Key Losses: DeAngelo Williams, Lawrence Timmons, Jarvis Jones
This Season’s Predictions:
Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-5
Cincinnati Bengals: 8-8
Baltimore Ravens: 5-11
Cleveland Browns: 4-12
Today felt like a history lesson in mediocrity. I’d say tomorrow will be better, but we’re travelling to the AFC South, so I can’t make any promises. I promise you’ll laugh though.
So tune in tomorrow for Dave’s AFC South Preview.
Who do you think will win the AFC North?? Post your predictions in the comment section below.
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