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AFC North Predictions

August 30, 2011

Day 2 of Big Z’s NFL predictions brings us to the NFC North, a division that bounces around a lot in the last couple of years.  The Bengals and their former glory, the Ravens who won a Superbowl (now seemingly forever ago), the Steelers and their dominance as of late, and the Browns… yeah, them.

4. Bengals.  The Bengals have been on a crashing course with their destiny lately to be at the bottom of the division, and in my opinion the bottom of the leauge.  I agree with Carson Palmer that this team is mis-managed.  I also agree with management that Palmer needs to play out the rest of his contract.  I thought the Eagles should have let Terrell Owens sit and rot at the bottom of their roster, but they didn’t do that.  Either way, Palmer gave them their best shot to win any time since he was drafted by the Bengals.  By not dealing him they ruin a small part of their future too.  Even still, their short term future looks awfully bleak–wait, just awful.

3. Browns.  Despite my burn on Cleveland Browns, I think they’re doing the right things lately to help their organization.  The trading away of Brady Quinn (after the mistake of taking him), the drafting of Colt McCoy (and not stupidly trading up to take him too early), and the way they use Joshua Cribbs is terrific.  It shows that this organization is trying to be competitive (unlike the Bengals who are rolling over and dying).  Holmgren started this team down a solid path, and it appears that they’re still heading down it.  The division at the top is too much to overcome, but watch for the Browns to at least reamain competitive.

2. Ravens.  The Baltimore Ravens are a team to fear in the AFC.  Their defense is always dominant, and for the last couple of years their offense is getting more dangerous.  Flacco, Rice, Boldin, I’m a little upset to see what their doing with their offensive line, losing Gaither and acquiring McKinnie, but other than that they are looking for another solid year.  Flacco has a bit of a chip on his shoulder with all the talk about how he has to win big games inorder to be considered an elite player, so watch for him to have a big year.

1. Steelers.  Unfortunately for the Ravens they have to share a division with the Steelers.  I am not a Steelers fan, and I would love to see them crash and burn.  Last year without Rapist-berger I thought for sure it would be their downfall.  But the team just found ways to win.  Expect them to do the same this year.  Roethlisberger and Mendenhall will have another strong season and continue to power the Steelers deep into the playoffs.

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