The Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers are the co-favorites to win the bruising AFC North, but the Cincinnati Bengals' high flying offense and the Browns' rebuilt roster may make things
interesting for footballs fans and bettors alike.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+130)
Big Ben is
back again, but the question always seems to be, not if but
when he'll get here? He takes a licking but how long
can he keep on ticking? Well, for the
sake of this discussion, we will assume he will be in fine form throughout the
season, but we all know he'll be at least hampered due to injury if not shelved altogether for a game or two.
Mendenhall will be on the shelf to start the year, still healing form an ACL
tear suffered on the last game of the regular season. Isaac Redman looks to be the lock to replace
him, but rookie burner Chris Rainey and Jonathan Dwyer will push Redman for
is the long ball threat for Roethlisberger with Antonio Brown and Emmanuel
Sanders as mid-range targets. Tight end
Heath Miller is Big Ben's security blanket for the short stuff, and Leonard Pope
adds depth at the position.
defensive line is talented, but the secondary, aside from Polamalu, has issues
and may be exposed if the rush fails to put pressure on the quarterback. These Steelers just seem to get beaten down
by injuries year after year, and the superstars are not getting any
younger. It could be a long season for
Baltimore Ravens (+130)
offense is still very much intact. Ray Rice has proven to be one of the elite
backs in the league while Joe Flacco comes back with another year of experience
under his belt. Flacco not only has the
talented tandem of Anquan Bolden and Torrey Smith to target but now has Jacoby
Jones at his disposal.
took a blow with the injury to Terrell Suggs, but the early reviews on rookie
linebacker Courtney Upshaw are universally positive. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are back for another
season and, even though they are long in the tooth, they are both still even
longer on talent. An oversized defensive
line and a rising star in Ladarius Webb at cornerback signal that the Ravens
will be the brutal beasts of the AFC North and a Super Bowl contender. They are my clear choice to win the division.
Cincinnati Bengals (+405)
have to feel pretty good about a pair of rookies who set the town on fire last
season in quarterback Andy Dalton and his talented young receiver A.J. Green. The Bengals are hoping to give Dalton another
viable option as their 3rd round draft pick this year is former
Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu. Cincinnati had a ton of draft picks this season and they are counting on
an influx of talent to make this team even better than last year, when they made
it to the postseason but then bowed to the Texans.
added former Patriot BenJarvus Green-Ellis to anchor their backfield and
drafted Kevin Zeitler to be their long term solution at guard. While the offense looks potent, the defense
could be decent as well. They have a
bevy of cornerbacks and the D-line should be a strong point.
It should be
noted that, for all the strides the Bengals made last season, they did not beat a
playoff team all year. They will be
facing a more difficult schedule this season, and that may be the sticking point
for this young team. They could very
well find themselves stuck in neutral, but I look for Cincinnati to cause more
damage in the division than the vaunted Steelers but wind up as bridesmaids to
Cleveland Browns (+3500)
So, NFL odds makers will give you 35-1 on your money if you back the Browns? Cheapskates. I mean seriously, the Browns drafted Trent Richardson and a soon to be
29-year-old quarterback in Brandon Weeden. All I can say is, that if he doesn't make it within the next two or three
years, he can go directly into coaching like most middle-aged guys do when their
career is through.
line here is that if Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden don't light it up this
season, then the drought will continue in Cleveland for years to come. Ugh!