Sunday, September 12, 2010

2010 NFL Preview-AFC North

Baltimore Ravens (11-5): The Ravens retake control of the South this year by way of its excellent young quarterback and running back, and the hugely improved receiving corps. It may be a bunch of number twos, but they're two of the best second receivers in the game. They're both going to do very well with Flacco throwing to them. The defense is great, of course, but we always knew that. As old as some of their players are, the organization has been consistently great at replenishing their bench with young players and, when they finally get to play, they fall right into the squad's usual high-quality play.

Cincinnatti Bengals (10-6): I'm still a believer in TO, and next to Ochocinco, Carson Palmer once again has a fantastic duo to throw to. They're getting old, true, but Owens hasn't slowed down much at all, at least given how long he's been playing. They don't have a real running game, and Cedric Benson doesn't count, so they're going to get a lot of chances for big plays. There are going to be a whole lot of high-scoring affairs, but I think the defense is improved enough to keep the score down for them. They're not going to win pretty, but they get to play the Browns twice, so that pads their schedule.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-9): The Steelers are going to be pretty bad this year, but it's not because The Rapist is out. I think they're going to win at least two with Dennis Dixon under center (Hook 'em Ducks!). When The Rapist comes back under center, he's going to be out of step with the rest of the team; it's easy to think the team has started giving up on him anyway. Plus, he'll be frustrated since he hasn't raped anybody in nearly a year. Beyond the quarterback play, the vaunted running game is a mess and, while their defense is good, they're getting pretty old. Mike Tomlin's job won't be in jeopardy, but The Rapist's might.

Cleveland Browns (5-11): Trend should feel good; five wins is quite an improvement. They're still one of the worst teams in the NFL, but they aren't the worst. Jake Delhomme is a terrible quarterback, but I guess that's forward progress from the Anderson/Quinn gambit they've been trying. Eric Mangini is a terrible coach and seems like a real asshole, but he may just look that way. Their defense is their saving grace, especially the linebackers, who I think is one of the deepest and most underrated groups in the league. Otherwise, not so much. Josh Cribbs is pretty good, but it appears that they believe they can win with only him. They can't.