2019 NFL Prediction: AFC North

Okay,  so now that we have a few divisions out,  let’s start getting into the rest and see how will win each division? Can the Cleveland Browns really have a chance to win their division?

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“Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham Jr.” by Erik Drost is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Who knows? The AFC North is as wide open as it could ever be with the changes that all the teams made.

After reading the AFC West,  you’ll know that former Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown is now an Oakland Raider, so how does that effect the Steelers this season?

Well that’s not all they lost. However, one man’s lost is another man’s treasure and that’s exactly what happened to the Cleveland Brown’s and their offense.

How about Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense? Or can the Cincinnati Bengals actually make an impact in the AFC North with a new head coach.

1. Cleveland Browns

 Last season’s record: 7-8-1 

Postseason Result: N/A

Off-season Acquisitions:

Signed:

  • WR Odell Beckham Jr. and DE Olivier Vernon (traded from N.Y. Giants)
  • OT Wyatt Teller (traded from Buffalo)
  • DT Sheldon Richardson (Minnesota)
  • SS Morgan Burnett (Pittsburgh)
  • RB Kareem Hunt and TE Demetrius Harris (Kansas City)
  • OT Kendall Lamm (Houston)
  • LB Adarius Taylor (Tampa Bay)

Drafted:

  • CB Greedy Williams (46th)
  • LB Sione Takitaki (80th)
  • S Sheldrick Redwine (119th)
  • LB Mack Wilson (155th)
  • K Austin Seibert (170th)

Off-season Departures:

  • OG Kevin Zeitler and DB Jabrill Peppers (N.Y. Giants)
  • OLB Jamie Collins (New England)
  • RB Orson Charles (Denver)
  • QB Tyrod Taylor (L.A. Chargers)
  • WR Breshad Perriman (Tampa Bay)
  • TE Darren Fells and RB Duke Johnson Jr. (Houston)
  • Retired K Phil Dawson

The Big Question:

Can the Browns win the North? Do they have enough to get the job done? How can they all be happy and win games? The biggest thing for the Browns is their chemistry all around. They have a mixture of different players and will need to get everyone involved.

Players like DE Olivier Vernon, SS Morgan Burnett and DT Sheldon Richardson to play with the veterans they already have like SS Damarious Randall and DT Myles Garrett on the defensive side. They also drafted more young guys on the defensive like Greedy Williams and the Browns will have a nice mix of young and vets to fill out the defense. 

On the offensive side, you are pairing two former college teammates together again in WRs Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.. They both look to have a good year with the young skillful athletes around them like QB Baker Mayfield and RB Nick Chubb. You could still put TE David Njoku in the mix too.  

The point is that the Browns have a lot of talent and they are clearly one of the favorites this year, but can the Steelers or Ravens give them a tough battle? 

Prediction: 10-6

2. Pittsburgh Steelers 

 Last season’s record: 9-6-1

Postseason Result: N/A

Off-season Acquisitions:

Signed:

  • CB Steven Nelson (Kansas City)
  • ILB Mark Barron (L.A. Rams)
  • WR Donte Moncrief (Jacksonville)
  • WR Eli Rogers 
  • OLB Anthony Chickillo
  • DT Daniel McCullers 

Draft:

  • ILB Devin Bush (10th)
  • WR Diontae Johnson (66th)
  • CB Justin Layne (83th)
  • RB Benny Snell Jr. (122th)
  • TE Zach Gentry (141th)
  • LB Sutton Smith (175th)
  • LB Ulysees Gilbert (207th)
  • T Derwin Gray (219th)

Off-Season Departures:

  • WR Antonio Brown (Traded to Oakland)
  • OT Marcus Gilbert (Traded to Arizona)
  • RB Le’Veon Bell (N. Y.  Jets)
  • TE Jesse James (Detroit)
  • S Morgan Burnett (Cleveland)
  • ILB Jon Bostic (Washington)

The Big Question:

The Steelers will not be the same team that we are use to seeing over the past several years. As you read through the players departures, you will see that WR Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell are no long a part of the Steelers organization. 

That raises several questions of who will step back? How much longer will QB Ben Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin be a part of the team too? Who is the new Triple B’s with Brown and Bell out? Can JuJu Smith-Schuster  and James Conner take over that role? What role will Vance McDonald play in all of this? 

Despite the departures of Brown and Bell, I think that the Steelers will be a competitive team this year and will miss winning the division by one game. I don’t know why, but I think that the Steelers will overcome the loss of the two talents that they had as they have already been able to do.

The emergence of WR James Washington and the addition of Donte Moncrief will help on the passing side and then there’s Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell Jr. to back up Conner in the running game. As long as these guys are healthy, they could continue to compete in the AFC North.

Prediction: 10-6

3. Baltimore Ravens

 Last season’s record: 10-6 

Postseason Result: Lost to the L. A. Chargers (23-17)  in the Wild Card round 

Off-season Acquisitions:

Signed:

  • S Earl Thomas (Seattle)
  • RB Mark Ingram (New Orleans)
  • CB Justin Bethel (Atlanta)
  • WR Seth Roberts (Oakland)
  • OLB Shane Ray (Denver)
  • WR Michael Floyd (Washington)
  • QB Robert Griffin III 

Drafted:

  • WR Marquise Brown (25h)
  • DE Jaylon Ferguson (85th)
  • WR Miles Boykin (93th)
  • RB Justice Hill (113th)
  • G Ben Powers (123rd)
  • CB Iman Marshall (127th)
  • DT Daylon Mack (160th)

Off-season Departures:

  • QB Joe Flacco (Traded to Denver)
  • P Kaare Vedvik (Traded to Minnesota)
  • ILB C.J. Mosley (N.Y. Jets)
  • OLB Za’Darius Smith (Green Bay)
  • WR John Brown (Buffalo)
  • S Eric Weddle (L.A. Rams)
  • OLB Markus Jones (Green Bay)
  • DT Elijah Qualls (Tampa Bay)
  • OLB Terrell Suggs (Arizona)
  • Retired CB Lardarius Webb
  • Retired WR Jeremy Maclin

The Big Question:

What will lead to the success of the Ravens this year? Can they be led by the defense again this year? How will the RB rotation look? Can QB Lamar Jackson improve his stats this season? As great as a defense as the Ravens have, I think they could likely do the same for them this season.

Despite losing a lot of defensive stars this past season, they didn’t completely lose out. 

With the departure of OLB Terrell Suggs, S Eric Weddle, and CB Lardarius Webb, the Ravens managed to still find nice pieces to feel that void with OLB Shane Ray, S Earl Thomas, and CB Justin Bethal. I’m not sure it’ll be the same defense it was last year, but they will still try to compete the best they can. 

The Ravens added RB Mark Ingram in hopes of him bring what he did with New Orleans to the Ravens and help Jackson get more and more comfortable over the season. They also drafted Justice Hill with the pick that they got from the Joe Flacco trade.

Speaking of Flacco, he got injury last season which put the pressure on Jackson even though he properly wasn’t ready for a full workload. His arm and throwing ability is what raises the biggest question. The Ravens approached the draft and free agency to try to find pieces to help Jackson progress.

The emergence of TE Mark Andrews will be a huge improvement in the Ravens offense as well, but it’s just not as much as we think it will to get them to the playoffs.

Prediction: 9-7

4. Cincinnati Bengals:  

Last season’s record: 6-10

Postseason Result: N/A  

Off-season Acquisitions

Signed: 

  • LB Dare Odeyingbo (Tampa Bay)
  • OG John Miller (Buffalo)
  • DB B.W. Webb and DE Kerry Wynn (N.Y. Giants)
  • OT John Jerry (N.Y. Giants)
  • OT Andre Smith (Arizona)
  • DT Josh Tupou
  • TE C.J. Uzomah 
  • TE Tyler Eifert 
  • CB Darqueze Dennard 

Drafted:

  • T Jonah Williams (11th)
  • TE Drew Sample (52nd)
  • LB Germaine Pratt (72nd)
  • QB Ryan Finley (104th)
  • DT Renell Wren (125th) 
  • G Michael Jordan (136th)
  • RB Trayveon Williams (182th)
  • LB Deshaun Davis (210th)
  • RB Rodney Anderson (211th)
  • CB Jordan Brown (223th)

Off-season Departures

  • LB Chris Worley (Philadelphia)
  • OLB Vontaze Burfict (Oakland)
  • DT Adolphus Washington (Miami)
  • Retired G Kent Perkins 
  • Retired G Clint Boling 

The Big Question:

Can the Bengals turn the page to a new chapter? Is a new coach what they really needed? How will the young offensive line fair against the other teams in the AFC North? What can RB Joe Mixon do this year? How will A. J.  Green’s health affect the team?

For the last 15 years, the Bengals have been stuck reading the same book over and over again. They have managed to win 51 percent of their games over the span.  If they can make playoffs and actually win a game then it will be a successful season for new coach Zac Taylor.

But there’s a lot of changes that happened this off-season that could impact them this year. Look forward to seeing Mixon have another breakout season and hopefully the pass catchers like TE Tyler Eifert and WR A.J. Green can stay healthy for a full season.

Green is likely to miss some games this season already, but the Bengals should be okay.  I think the difficulty schedule is what will hold them back this season.

Prediction: 6-10

Predicted Division Standings:

  1. Cleveland Browns (10-6)
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
  4. Cincinnati Bengals (6-10)

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