MR N’s #NFL AFC North Preview for 2015‏ #nflthoughts #nflnetwork

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens – There is hope in Charm City as the 2015 season begins.  The Ravens nearly got past the Pats last year and they may be stronger this year.  The Ravens made creative personnel moves that in the end brought them new talent ahead of last year.  Out with WR T Smith and DL Ngata but added Perriman in the draft and already had young talent on the D line and there is no drop off there.  GM Ozzie Newsom has put together a solid lineup, Coach Harbaugh gets the most out of his team.  Flacco isn’t too far from elite and he can get it done.  They have stumbled upon a decent RB.  Their O line is terrific.  The Receiving corps is strong.  The Front 7 of the D is superb.  Mosely is a generational talent at MLB.  Their Corners are strong.  The only slight weakness is a lack of productivity at safety but they just need to be ok to keep up their end.  The schedule is brutal but this team can give as good as it gets.  If all goes well they are 11-5.  I think they can’t be less than 10-6 so I will say 10-6.  This will win the division. This team could be playing in Super Bowl 50.

Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers have likely the best offense in the NFL and they are going to need it.  Even missing LeVeon Bell for 3 games won’t kill the scoring.  They have a much younger D now and it’s under a new Co-ordinator.  If the youth can get their legs under them quick and the secondary can turn youth and speed into passes defended and picks then this team will be tough.  I think that is asking too much.  Add to that a schedule only Hell could devise and it’s a recipe for disaster.  If the Steelers are totally on point and win even tough early games like on the road in SD then they could be 6-4 going into their bye.  The post bye sked is horrific and if they are miraculous they might go 2-4 and finish 8-8.  They are likely 1-5 off the bye and that means 7-9.  The Steelers high water mark has to be 10-6 and their low is likely 6-10.  I think 8-8 and out of the playoffs.

Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals are one of only a few teams that have made the playoffs 4 years in a row.  They are also the only team to go one and done four years in a row.  This streak will end in 2015. They won’t make the playoffs!  Andy Dalton is not much of an excuse for a franchise QB.  They have a super star WR who is a touch injury prone, 2 good RB and they may have a TE who is healthy this year.  The O line is decent.  The D lost it’s mojo when Their DC Zimmer became Minnesota’s coach and they are not the same any more.  Doesn’t really matter who is playing there.  They have a tough schedule too but they are not the team Baltimore is.  I think if they somehow play some D and Dalton makes a throw or two they could win 9 games.  They could blow up and win 6.  I say 7-9 and 2016 brings a new QB and a new HC.

Cleveland Browns – The Browns are a team building something decent after years (and YEARS) of spinning their wheels in no direction.  They still need to find certainty at QB.  Josh McCown is aged but *BUT* could provide steadiness.  John Manziel seems to have found maturity and brought himself to a new place.  It is early days but he resembles the Texas A&M force on the field. He could yet be an NFL QB.  The Browns have 2 good RB, a bunch of competent WR and TE (perennial bad boy Gordon is done for the year and likely as a Brown). The O line is superb. Note that left tackle Joe Thomas has never missed A SNAP in 8 seasons.  That is remarkable!  The D is stronger with the addition of Danny Shelton and adding Williams at CB.  The problem is that Satan devised their schedule.  If the QB play gels the Browns could win a hard fought 9.  I don’t see that.  I see them win their first 3 games, get their city excited.  They then lose the next 7 to their bye and likely their coach is fired *not his fault, he didn’t make the schedule*. Then post bye they go 3-3 and and a hard luck 6-10.  They are a better team than that record but that schedule is a killer.

There you have it, as always I enjoy thoughts, comments, arguments or agreements!

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