The American Football Conference North Division, or AFC North, is a division of the National Football League’s American Football Conference. SportsRadioAmerica.com previews the AFC North for the 2018 season.
The Ravens are 40-40 since winning Super Bowl XLVII. That is the definition of average. Their roster and main stars from that team remain to age. Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle are all in their mid-30’s. Health always plays a factor in the NFL. Hopefully, the Ravens will benefit from a complete offensive line this season. Reportedly, electric first round draft pick Lamar Jackson will get snaps in a two-quarterback system. If so, it can bring life to an offense that’s lost its identity. The team’s personnel the last two seasons hasn’t seen significant improvements. The Ravens can prove themselves during a week four, Sunday night matchup with heated rival the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Bengals appeared to be on their way to being Super Bowl contenders. But, after five straight playoff appearances, they’ve missed the contests the last two seasons. Many expected head coach Marvin Lewis to be fired, but he was brought back for another year. The end of the season ends with three road games in four contests. The acquisition of Cordy Glenn will help bolster Cincinnati up front, but the team as a whole has not seen great improvement. The Bengals’ defense is historically mediocre and last season stats reflect their standing. With Andy Dalton and A.J. Green still leading the offense, the team has the potential to outscore anybody.
Under new general manager John Dorsey, the Browns have reworked their roster Last season, the team went 0-16, being only the second team to do so. While the Detroit Lions (0-16) were largely blowouts, Cleveland was competitive in most of their games. The Browns signed Carlos Hyde, Chris Hubbard, Chris Smith, T.J. Carrie and E.J. Gaines in free agency. Then, they traded for Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry and Damarious Randall. With their off season moves, Cleveland is better at QB, running back, wide receiver, cornerback and safety. In the rough and tough AFC North, this team has the potential to surprise many people this season. A primetime game in week three pits them against the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football and the country will see if they bounce back.
Like most of the last decade, the Steelers are still the AFC North’s best team, as well as Super Bowl contenders. Last year’s catch ruling against the Patriots now stands and if it were in place last year, the Steelers might possibly have been in the Super Bowl. Todd Haley’s departure as offensive coordinator might be a shining light as he had friction with QB “Big Ben” Roethlisberger regarding questionable play-calling. Pittsburgh’s defense is a work in progress, but still the best in the division. While the defense works out it’s kinks, the Steelers have the league’s best combination of skill-position talent in Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, few teams will be able to match their scoring output.