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Thread: AFC North

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Green Bay, WI

    AFC North

    Ok I figured I would get a grasp for Raven Fans feeling here since I am a newbie around these parts. I wanted to get your thoughts on your division and see where you think you stand from where I see your division.

    I will start out by saying I think you win your division. I consider myself to be a knowledgeable football fan but of course you know more about your division than me. Yes the perception is that you lost a lot, but you also gained a lot. The additions of Huff, Dumervil, and Canty are great. You managed to add quality without breaking the bank. Losing staples like Reed and Lewis is a blow that most teams cannot deal with but you managed. I wanted Elam so bad in the draft but am happy with DaTone Jones, but I think you got a steal there. Stud SS with a great head on his shoulders. Your OLine is solid, you have one of the best 1-2 punches in the league at RB and Smith is a strong option at WR. The depth at WR is the only weakness I see but you make up for it with two very good, young TE's. I believe Flacco is elite. Not one of the top 3 QB's in the league, but close. he just wins.

    Bengals. I see the Bengals continuing to do well. They have a core group of young guys and an underrated defense with some playmakers on that side of the ball. AJ Green is a freakshow. I see them going around 9-7 and playoffs is not out of the question with the AFC being up for grabs for 6 spots.

    Steelers. Same thing, different year. Last year the Steelers were banged up but I don't feel as if they have the talent on their roster to make it over .500. Losing Wallace hurts, he was their only real deep threat. OLine is a question mark and Big Ben will continue to get creamed. They sported the top ranked defense in yards allowed but couldn't put up the points necessary to win. If I am a steeler fan I am worried for the next few years.

    Browns. Ahh yes the Browns. Interesting team here. They are surrounding Weeden with some weapons but he is questionable to say the least. Gordon and Little are serviceable, and TRich is a stud. He has the best blind side protector in the league. An underrated LB corps and Hayden is the man back there. Adding Krueger helps. I just think it will take a while to change the culture around there but they are doing a lot of the right things. 5-11 is my wild guess.

    Like I said, I am an outsider but give me your thoughts.

  2. #2

    Re: AFC North

    Uh, dang. That's more accurate than just about any Steelers, Bengals, or Browns fan could ever hope to write. The one thing that most people miss when talking about our defense is the healthy return of its best player (Suggs) and its 2nd or 3rd best player (Webb).

    As for the Steelers, I keep waiting for the defense's wheels to fall off the cart due to age, but at this point I don't think that will happen until LeBeau leaves; he manages to hide all of the other shortcomings.
    I've upped my standards. Up yours.

  3. #3

    Re: AFC North

    The media and fans calling them them "Baltimore Marlins" was just absurd...notwithstanding the fact that the Marlins returned to competitiveness within 3 years and won another WS, but I digress.

    The defense last year was pedestrian (helped out by an incredible red-zone TD percentage). They should be much better. On offense, it all depends on if Flacco was really hamstrung by Cameron, or if last year's late season run was a fluke. 6 games is really too small of a sample size to make any real judgments. Special teams are always solid under Harbaugh. I expect the Ravens to again make the playoffs. If Cameron really was the issue, then they will certainly do better than last's year's 10 wins and could be very good.

    My sense of the Bengals is that they have a lot of talent and should again be a playoff contender. They could be very good if some things go their way and that talent improves even further.

    The Browns I think are getting somewhat better, but they have a QB-issue (until proven otherwise) and it is hard to be very good without an effective QB. I am also not sure that they have figured out how to rid themselves of their losing culture. I see them as a sub-.500 team, again.

    The Steelers? They are one of those teams that has rapidly aged at key spots, especially on defense. They have also lost some key free agents. Nothing new there; what is new is that the players that they have drafted over the last few years have not stepped up like Steeler draftees from years past. And, if Roethlisberger continues to get injured, they too have a QB-issue. My head says they will struggle to win 8 games and may even compete with Cleveland for the basement if they get some bad luck (like Roethlisberger going down again). But I have written them off in seasons past and they always seem to bounce back strong. So they will probably win the division and go to the Super Bowl.
    Last edited by JohnBKistler; 07-19-2013 at 11:24 AM.

  4. #4

    Re: AFC North

    Even on the Steelers Boards there is concern. Think it was someone on here that said Tomlin is running out of Cowher's players,lol. Anyways I see a 8-8 at best season for them, and much wose if something happens to Ben.

    The Browns are the Browns. Whoever said 5-11 is prob a good assessment.

    Now to the Meat and Potatoes:
    The Bengals. Really with the exception of QB and RB they are either very close per position to us or have better players. Look line by line at every individual position. They'll make the playoffs again at 10-6 and make it interesting for the division lead late in the season as I really see us going 11-5, MAYBE 12-4.

    For us. Already said. With everything almost said and done and just needing PreSeason to take a look at the final 53 man roster and a who's gonna shake out at WR it's time to start putting those predicitions up. I say 11-5 or 12-4 winning the division and than letting Joe do what he does very well in the playoffs. 12-4 if everything is as advertised and Caldwell and Joe can overcome and scheme properly with our questionable WR core. 11-5 if we struggle ala under Cam.

  5. #5

    Re: AFC North

    The Ravens will win the division but it will be contested. If you pay attention to the media pundits they have been predicting the Ravens downfall for years. The knock was we were too old. Now that we are younger all you hear about is losing leadership. Screw them. During the playoffs they were big underdogs in every game except the Colts. New pieces on the defense will need some time to mesh but on paper we are younger, faster and deeper. Organizationally I wouldn't trade with anyone. From the owners to the coaches to the GM, it's a well run organization.

    All of the AFCN teams field strong defenses. The Bengals have been touted for the last few years by the media but I'm not sold on them yet. The Steelers were 8-8 last year and could have easily been 10-6. I still consider them to be the biggest threat and main nemesis. The Browns aren't ready to compete for the division yet, but could in another year or 2.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010

    Re: AFC North

    My projected Div rankings (early, I know....)

    Ravens 12-4
    Bengals 10-6
    Browns 8-8 or 9-7
    Steelers 5-11 or 6-10

    Ravens build on last year but a repeat championship is about more than ability. "The Last Ride" really served as a rallying cry. Hopefully they have a new one this year. Bengals continue to perform at the level they have been for two years - competently. They can win and acquit themselves well but they don't have the moxie of a champion. Browns have some good great talent, but still have holes and QB, the most important position is a question mark. Their new coaching staff though might make much out of it though. They may actually get their first victory against Harbs this year after 5 years straight losing to him. Steelers... They might finally have had a decent draft but there's a lot of holes. The O line has'em. The secondary has'em (Troy will go out this year like Hines did in 2011 IMHO). Their receiver situation is dire compared to our., these guys are gonna be hurting at the end of the year but may find out which of their depth players are future stars.

  7. #7

    Re: AFC North

    Seems like a pretty good synopsis to me. The AFC is weak. I could see any team in the division making the playoffs, with the obvious exception of the Browns.

    IF Suggs and Webb return to form, this defense is back near the top of the league. I don't know if we can count on both being as good as before, but that's what I'll be hoping for.

    The D-Line rotation is very deep. I think it will be the strength of our defense. We also have a great group of corners, especially if Webb is healthy. And obviously there's possibility for a strong pass rushing tandem w/ Suggs and Dumerville. To me the most essential elements of a modern NFL defense are d-line, corners, and pass rush in whatever order. I love the fact that we could be strong in each of these areas.

    Our quality up the middle at MLB, FS, and SS remains to be seen. I like the Huff signing. I'm hoping Elam will be a solid pick. I LOVED the Arthur Brown pick late in the 2nd round. I think it will prove to be the steel of this draft for us. Hopefully he can be effective from the get-go, otherwise I think we will look pretty rough at MLB. Collectively I see this group being a bit weak early in the season, but becoming reliable as the season progresses. I don't see S or MLB being a strength for the team at any point this season.

    On offense I really don't know. What we saw in the playoffs from Flacco was incredible (11 TDs, 0 Ints). We had replaced Cam Cameron w/ Jim Caldwell at OC shortly before the playoffs. So if that run was a preview of things to come w/ Caldwell, we are probably the best team in the AFC. In truth, I think we'll see something between that and the production we had under Cam.

    I agreed with the Boldin move for cap reasons, but I do think we'll feel his loss. I'm not as optimistic as some that we have the right guy waiting in the wings as slot receiver. Some say Pitta will pick up the production. I'm sure he'll pick up some, but Pitta isn't going to blow teams away. He's a smart, consistent player who will take advantage of mismatches when he gets them. His production may be a little higher this year, but I don't see a big change in his numbers. Their best chance for added production in the passing game might be the other TE Ed Dickson, since he did very little last year but has some good physical tools and already has some decent experience on game day.

    The O-line is very strong at guard. Elsewhere I'd expect sub-par play at RT from Oher and growing pains from Gradkowski at C. I'm honestly not sure what to expect out of McKinnie at LT.

    Our RB tandem is outstanding. I don't know if Rice is great between the tackles runner at this point, but he's so incredibly dangerous catching balls out of the backfield (4th-and-29) that I'm not that worried about it. The 2nd year RB Pierce is better option between the tackles. He could easily be a feature back in the NFL, but a tandem of him and Rice will be exciting to watch.

    I would love to count the Steelers out because of an aging defense and frequently injured QB, but I know better than that. Their defense will fall off at some point, but I'm done holding out hope that it's happening this year. I've hoped that for 2 or 3 years now. And there's always a chance that Big Ben makes it to the end of the season in one piece. If so, they're still a dangerous team.

    I will say that they are clearly weaker on paper. The Ravens lose pieces every year, but I feel like we have done a better job of drafting the last 4 or 5 years, and that is why we've finally surpassed the Steelers. Add in that fact that while we're smart enough not to break the bank in free agency, we're also not afraid to find some critical role players. The past couple years we added Jacoby Jones, Vonta Leach, Bryant McKinnie, Bernard Pollard, and Corey Graham in FA and all of them have been important to our success in that time span. This year we added Huff, Canty, and Dumerville among others. The Steelers seem like they're almost dogmatic about not building through free agency. Not that they had much of a choice the way they've continually restructured contracts the last several years.

    Lots of talent. If Dalton takes the next step, then they're as good as anyone in the AFC IMO. I just don't think he'll do it.

    Factory of Sadness

    Predicted final standings
    Ravens - 11-5
    Bengals - 10-6
    Steelers - 9-7
    Browns - 5-11

  8. #8

    Re: AFC North

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle Cactus View Post
    Factory of Sadness
    LOL...that cuts right to the truth, don't it?

  9. #9

    Re: AFC North

    I call it like I see it.

  10. #10

    Re: AFC North

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle Cactus View Post
    I call it like I see it.
    I see their culture of losing as their biggest obstacle. Now, with a new owner, new GM and new coach, they have a shot at changing it, but they have a very difficult road ahead trying to do it in this division.

  11. #11

    Re: AFC North

    Quote Originally Posted by saintmatthew View Post
    My projected Div rankings (early, I know....)

    Ravens 12-4
    Bengals 10-6
    Browns 8-8 or 9-7
    Steelers 5-11 or 6-10
    I agree with your rankings projection, but not all the W/L prognostications:

    • It's a stretch to have the Ravens winning 12 games after the loss of its best WR, its best sacker & two defensive leaders. Against four #1 teams from 2012 and the tough AFC North round robin, I would be happy with 10 wins again.
    • Cincy - check
    • Browns - 6 sounds about right
    • Steelers - check
    In a 2003 BBC poll that asked Brits to name the "Greatest American Ever", Mr. T came in fourth, behind ML King (3rd), Abe Lincoln (2nd) and Homer Simpson (1st).

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    New Jersey

    Re: AFC North

    My predictions:

    Ravens: 12-4 or 13-3
    Steelers: 11-5 or 12-4
    Bengals: Somewhere in the volatile range between 6-10 and 10-6
    Browns: 6-10

    I don't see many areas the ravens have weakness this year, and I think we will have a top 10 offense & defense. Obviously you never know what could go wrong. The Chargers had the #1 offense AND #1 defense... and somehow went just 9-7 and missed the playoffs.

    But I see the Ravens being better this year than last year.

    I also see the Steelers offense being a phenom this year. The defense will be good, not great. They will have a weak schedule and will win lots of games. Roethlisberger will play well and play all 16 games. That's just my prediction. It's too much to ask for the Steelers to miss the playoffs in back to back seasons. I just can't expect that to happen.

    The Bengals will be smacked down to earth. Andy Dalton is not a great quarterback because he is a bad quarterback against good teams. He has a 2-11 record against teams that make the playoffs, and one of those wins was really Bruce Gradkowski's win against us in Week 17 last year when the starters were rested. So really, we could consider him 1-11. That one career win against a playoff team came against the Redskins in week 3 last year (who didn't exactly start off the season well, going 3-6 before finishing the season 7-0!).

    That 1-11 record is just an .083 win percentage.

    Dalton's stats versus playoff teams:
    250/437, 2898 Yards, 12 TD, 14 INT = 73.2 QB Rating

    The average among all active quarterbacks against playoff teams is an 81.2 QB Rating and a .348 win percentage.

    Dalton isn't even good against non-playoff teams:
    420/679, 4553 Yards, 35 TD, 19 INT = 87.1 QB Rating

    Much, much better obviously. But the average against non-playoff teams among all active QBs? 89.0 QB Rating.

    The difference is that Dalton has an .810 win percentage against those bad teams, despite the league average being .652. So he can't beat the good teams, and he is awful against them. Meanwhile, he beats the bad teams, but is still below average against them, so that win percentage is likely to creep back down to the league average.

    The Begnals, with a 2nd place schedule in the AFC North this season, have about 8 games against probable playoff teams. I say they win maybe 2 of them, assuming Dalton actually improves at least somewhat from his career levels. Then they get the other 8 against non-playoff teams, and I say he regresses from his career average and wins about 5 of them. Therefore I have them at 7-9. But i could easily see 6-10 if he falls below league average in win percentage vs the bad teams (assuming he continues to perform at below league average against them). If he steps it up, I see a maximum potential of 10 wins out of that team.

    Keep in mind that out of 57 active players with at least 100 pass attempts against playoff teams, Dalton's QB rating ranks 40th against them! He has a traditionally low percentage of games played against playoff teams, which is why he has a lot of wins. Only 38% of his schedule has been against playoff teams in his career. League average is 41%. Flacco, for instance, has played 48% of his career against playoff teams. When Dalton plays more games against better teams this season, he will suffer. Of those 57 players, there are numerous QBs who aren't considered good players who have a better QB Rating than Dalton against the good teams. Just some of them:

    Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill, Matt Leinart, David Carr, Josh Freeman, Kevin Kolb, Chad Henne, Byron Leftwich, Brandon Weeden, Sam Bradford, Kyle Orton, Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Moore, Tim Tebow, Christian Ponder, Jason Campbell...

    Anyway... I haven't mentioned the Browns yet: They will be better than last year on offense, worse on defense, and will have about the same record. Nothing to note, really.


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