With the NFL season just around the corner, it’s time to throw out some wild predictions about how the teams will shape up and which players will thrive in 2014.
The Cincinnati Bengals took control of the AFC North last season thanks to a bevy of injuries to members of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens just taking a year off from football. While most of the attention in the division has been towards Cleveland and Johnny Manziel, the other three teams are the ones to watch for the upcoming season.
Here are my predictions for the AFC North this season:
1. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
2. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
4. Cleveland Browns (4-12)
Sorry Cleveland, but just have comfort that LeBron James is back in town for the time being. Outside of the school of thought that head coach Marvin Lewis is due for a fall, the Bengals have everything in place to repeat as the division winner. Andy Dalton isn’t the best QB in the North, but he is more than capable of getting the ball into his playmakers hands. The Ravens could end up rallying around the Ray Rice incident, and Pittsburgh is always a threat to win 10 games every season, but Cincy has had everyone’s number in the division, which should lead to another AFC North crown.
Here are some individual awards for the division:
AFC North Offensive Player of the Year: A.J. Green, CIN
AFC North Defensive Player of the Year: Joe Haden, CLE
AFC North Rookie of the Year: Darqueze Dennard. CIN
AFC North X-Factor: Markus Wheaton, PIT
AFC North Coach of the Year: Marvin Lewis, CIN