Friday, May 14, 2010

AFC North

Alright, here we go. Time to tackle the AFC North prediction!!! Which is a lot harder than it sounds to be honest. The trouble with the AFC North is that once you remove the Browns from the equation, it's so competitive. The Bengals, Steelers and Ravens are so close to one another that a good draft or a key free agent acquisition can tip the balance of power one way or another. From season to season it is easily the strongest individual division in the NFL. Except - like I said - for the Browns. Ok, so they brought in Mike Holmgren. Wow. They've still got Eric Mangini. But apparently that wasn't bad enough, so they went out and invested in 'The Pick Machine' Jake Delhomme, who should really be sitting on a couch somewhere right now drinking a beer and watching re-runs of the playoff game against the Cardinals from 2008 while drunkenly shouting about how nobody understands him. Instead he's working out with the Browns as their number one guy for the season. With a WR corps that hardly reads like a list of potential pro bowlers, I smell disaster on the horizon. Josh Cribbs is good and D'Qwell Jackson is solid, but that's two players on a roster of 53. It's going to be another long year in Cleveland as Mangini is played as the scapegoat ready for King Holmgren to step in and make things all better with his new QB (McCoy) who will spend most of this year on the sideline being kept back for the Glorious Revolution brought on when Mike finally decides to take up the HC role. Just for clarity's sake - in my personal opinion and nothing more - I think Holmgren is setting Mangini up for the fall so he can step in as the Head Coach. Anyway, potential libel suits aside, lets move on to Pittsburgh (hmm, a potential libel minefield). They're going to miss Roethlisberger big time for those first six games. Now it might be to their benefit in the long run. Without Big Ben they may go back to Steeler football; running the ball and playing great defense. Might. Their cause was certainly helped by the drafting of Maurkice Pouncey. If they do, I think there's a lot of hope and promise. If they don't then I don't think it looks good for the Yellow and Black Attack. They still might edge a wildcard, but I think the division is beyond the reach of the Steelers. Of course, one team looking to ruin the Steelers playoff hopes (again) will be the Bengals. They've done some handy work in the off season. Picking up Antonio Bryant is a damn good upgrade for that offense. It'll help draw coverage from Chad Ochocinco and with the addition in the draft of TE Jermaine Gresham and WR Jordan Shipley, the Bengals passing attack may just be poised to explode onto the NFL once more. A lot of it will be down to QB Carson Palmer. If he can find his rhythm then the Bengals have a great shot at the division, especially with their defense looking better of late, and that's even before we factor in getting Antwan Odom back healthy and getting DE Carlos Dunlap in the draft to help the pass rush. Beware of the Bengals. More importantly though, Respect the Ravens. Because (I know grammar nazis) the Ravens could be on the brink of going back to the Superbowl. See the Ravens were good before. They had a good lineup, but just lacked a few pieces. Then in free agency they got Dante Stallworth and traded for Anquan Boldin. Oh, and then in the draft they went out and grabbed at least three players who can help them win games this year (Ed Dickson, Terrence Cody, Sergio Kindle). The Ravens hit all the right buttons this off season. They were good before, they've only got better. The question is though, how far will Joe Flacco take them. They can mitigate that a little by leaning on Ray Rice, but at some point in 2010 Flacco has to step up and be the guy. He has to take the lead and push his team over the brink into glory and success. And I'm kind of quietly rooting for them this year. At least until they reach the Superbowl and get taken down by a triumphant 49ers team. You heard it here first... So in review here's how I think they'll finish: 1. Ravens (winners) 2. Bengals 3. Steelers 4. Browns ---- Well providing I haven't had my ass sued off by Mike Holmgren I'll be back tomorrow to look at the AFC East. Till then, have a great day everyone.


Anonymous said...

So how does a guy from the UK get so passionate about football in the states?
Keep on's keeping me going in these dull times. Oh, Lebron wants this and that. I am just glad a single NFLer can't dictate as much as what goes on in Bball.

Chris said...

I love football. I got hooked in about 1994 after watching a show on UK tv that explained all the rules and what the game was about. It beats the living crap out of soccer... then picks it up and spears it into the ground for another 15 yard penalty.

I do my best in these dark times but it's always a pain waiting for the season to come around again.