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AFC North Preview: Bengals Claw Their Way To Top, Browns, Steelers Battle For Last Place

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The AFC North will be the best division in football. No other division seems to have the same level of parity.

Most fans will question such as assumption based on the Browns low expectations. However, the Browns made everyone second-guess the expectations after going 7-9 last season. Cleveland’s defense added much-needed depth with Ron Starks, Tramon Williams, Danny Shelton and Nate Orchard.

Will quarterback Josh McCown succeed despite so many shortcomings in his career? Why should anyone think that McCown will turn things around after playing in offenses with dynamic receivers such as Brandon Marshall, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson?

McCown has something that he didn’t have in Tampa Bay: a dominant offensive line. He also has the benefit on being on the offense that could feature the best ground attack in the NFL with Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West and the University of Miami’s record breaking runner Duke Johnson.

This could provide opportunities for Andrew Hawkins, Travis Benjamin, Dwayne Bowe, and Brian Hartline. The Browns will likely use several play action passes in each game to compliment their fast and physical running attack.

The Cincinnati Bengals have the best offense in the division. Andy Dalton is one of the top regular season quarterbacks. A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu are one of the most reliable receiving duos in the NFL.

The Baltimore Ravens have a main threat of four dynamic weapons in Joe Flacco, Steve Smith, Justin Forsett and rookie tight end Maxx Williams.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are not as stout as they have traditionally are due to the losses of Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel and Ike Taylor, but the Steel City’s prolific high-powered offense can never be questioned.

Although the four-game suspension of La’veon Bell is devastating, the Steelers can always rely on the cannon arm of veteran Ben Roethlisberger and the NFL’s new top receiver Antonio Brown.

And due to the loss of long-time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, and fresh faces such as rookie Bud DuPree and the question mark that is former first round-pick Jarvis Jones, Pittsburgh’s best defense may actually be it’s offense, as they will need to put up points and outscore teams weekly.

Projected AFC North Standings-

1. Cincinnati Bengals 12-4

2. Baltimore Ravens 10-6

3. Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7

4. Cleveland Browns 8-8


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