“Today, We Head North Of The Border….Sort Of.” (DaveTalksSports Podcast – Ep. #37)

Is the Cleveland Browns hype for real?!

Will Pittsburgh thrive without Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell??

Is Mitchell Trubisky the real deal??

Is there a team worse than the Bengals??

All these answers and more in today’s episode!!

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AFC North Preview


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….

Cleveland Browns

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

Baltimore Ravens

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

Cincinnati Bengals

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

Pittsburgh Steelers

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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I’d Ask, But I Know You Are Ready For Some Football!!


Your birthday? Nope. Your anniversary? Nah. That day you randomly find a $20 in your jacket that you haven’t worn in 3 months? Almost, but no. So what is the best day of the year? It is today; Opening Day of the NFL Season. It is the day you’ve been waiting for ever since the unbelievably annoying Ray Lewis hoisted The Lombardi Trophy over is head in February. Well, the wait is over. You can have a snickers bar and you can watch some football. You can finally see how your fantasy picks will pan out. And, you all have a reason to sit on the couch and do nothing. Enjoy what should undoubtedly be made a National Holiday.

The 2013 NFL Season kicks off tonight, Thursday September 5th, with the defending champion Baltimore Ravens taking on the Denver Broncos (I think we all remember what happened the last time these teams met). To say The Broncos will be looking for revenge would be an understatement. The Broncos enter the season with extremely high expectations. Some have them in or winning The Super Bowl this year thanks to the additions of Wes Welker and others. Even with their best defender, Von Miller, suspended for the first 4 games of the season they are still looked at as the favorites in the AFC. On the other hand, the defending champion Ravens enter the season with a handful of question marks. How do they replace Ray Lewis and Ed Reed? Will Joe Flacco live up to the astronomically high contract he was given last year? Can you really win with just 1 wide receiver? That last one was a joke, but seriously how are you going to win with Torrey Smith and me at wide receiver? Despite his impressive Super Bowl performance and his wonderful (haha) showing on Dancing With The Stars, Jacoby Jones is actually not very good at football. These are some of the questions that will certainly be answered once the season gets under way. You can catch tonight’s opening game on NBC at 8:30 P.M. Who do you like to win this game? I have Denver (at home) winning a relatively close game 24-17.

The rest of Week 1 will be played on Sunday and Monday. So, clear your schedules for the weekend, find that ass groove in the couch that has missed you so dearly, and lets get ready for some football. I am now ready to give you some of my thoughts and predictions on the upcoming season. Everyone has an opinion on their own favorite team and who they think will win, but football more than any other sport is incredibly unpredictable. Players get injured at a very high rate, and every year we seem to have a completely unknown player climb out of the woodwork and land right in the limelight. Nonetheless, lets make some predictions. I shall start with my favorite “team”, The New York Jets. Their team can be summed up in one word: Joke. They are a complete and utter joke. I see them winning 4 games at most, but most likely will only pull off 3 lucky victories. With that being said, I still believe it is not fair for ESPN to rank the Jets as the worst team in the NFL. That distinction clearly should be held by The Oakland Raiders (Chris Berman voice). Anyway, I see the Raiders, Jets, and Jaguars all being very very bad, and I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these teams wound up as the worst team in the league. And now, I will provide you with the Division winners, Wild Card teams, and Super Bowl Champion that will make up the 2013 playoffs.

In the AFC East, I don’t see how any other team will come out of that division than The New England Patriots. Everyone can talk about how much better The Miami Dolphins will be, but I’m sorry Ryan Tannehill, I’m just not buying it. The AFC West is also a pretty easy division to figure out. The Denver Broncos will handily win this division. Most people are eager to hop on the Kansas City Chiefs bandwagon, but I’m also not prepared to do that either. Will they be in a hunt for the Wild Card with 3 games to go? It’s very possible, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if they were 4-9 by then either. Oh, they have Alex Smith? Well then, that changes everything, they’ll probably win The Super Bowl. What was I thinking? The AFC North and South are a little tougher to figure out, and will probably provide the playoffs with the other 4 teams in the AFC this year. The AFC North will be a tightly contested division, but I feel that The Cincinnati Bengals will prevail. I also believe that The Ravens, not The Steelers will land a Wild Card spot this year. The Steelers have no running game, and Big Ben just isn’t good enough to win without a good supporting cast and top 10 defense. The AFC South is a fun division and should also bring 2 playoff teams to the mix this year. The Indianapolis Colts will win this division behind the strong play of Andrew Luck (he is the real deal and will be the best 2nd year QB in the NFL this season). The Texans will land the other Wild Card spot this year.

    AFC Playoff Picture

1.) Denver Broncos
2.) New England Patriots
3.) Indianapolis Colts
4.) Cincinnati Bengals
5.) Baltimore Ravens
6.) Houston Texans

I envision The Denver Broncos beating The New England Patriots in the AFC Championship (and giving everyone that one last Peyton Vs. Tom showdown everyone was looking for last year).

As for the NFC, I see this as the much harder conference to predict. The NFC East by itself is like flipping a 4-sided coin. But, here goes nothing. In the NFC East, as much as I hate them and love watching them crumble under pressure, I see the Dallas Cowboys narrowly pulling out the division title this year. I think The New York Giants will be in the fight for a Wild Card spot all season but will fall just short of the playoffs yet again this season. The NFC West, which is seen as the strongest division in the NFL should definitely bring 2 teams to the playoffs this year. I have The San Francisco 49ers winning the division, and The Seattle Seahawks winning a Wild Card spot. The NFC North should be a battle between 2 long time rivals; The Packers and Da Bears. I see The Packers edging out the Bears for the Division while Jay Cutler will once again be watching the playoffs from home this season. Last, but certainly not least, there is my favorite division in football, The NFC South. This division should also produce 2 playoff teams this season. The Atlanta Falcons will once again win the division while the New Orleans Saints will land the final playoff spot this season.

    NFC Playoff Picture

1.) San Francisco
2.) Atlanta Falcons
3.) Green Bay Packers
4.) Dallas Cowboys
5.) Seattle Seahawks
6.) New Orleans Saints

Let me repeat how unpredictable the NFC is going to be this season. Don’t be surprised if the Wild Cards consist of The Bears, Redskins, Giants, or Redskins. However, based off my predictions, I see The San Francisco 49ers beating the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship in a rematch of last year. As for the Super Bowl, I see Peyton Manning prevailing to win his 2nd Lombardi Trophy, while Colin Kaepernick suffers his 2nd straight defeat in the Super Bowl. And that my friends, is how I see the NFL season playing out this year. It is a long road, and it all starts tonight. However it plays out, enjoy it!!

Please leave me your predictions for the upcoming NFL Season below in the comment section. Thank you.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!