NFL

Football Insiders’ AFC North Predictions

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The staff of experts at Football Insiders weighed in on who will win the AFC North.  Without any further ado, here are the results:

Michael Lombardo-

1. Cincinnati Bengals
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. Cleveland Browns

The Bengals are one of the few teams in the league that has more firepower at the skill positions than the Steelers. And while Ben Roethlisberger is better than Andy Dalton, Cincinnati still has a significant advantage on defense now that Michael Johnson is back and Geno Atkins is healthy again. The Ravens are too inconsistent on offense and too thin in the secondary to keep pace in the race for the division crown. The Browns are heading in the right direction after an A-plus draft class, but Cleveland is still at least a year away.  

Charlie Bernstein-

1. Baltimore Ravens
2. Cincinnati Bengals
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Cleveland Browns

The Ravens are the most well-rounded team in the division that also has a real quarterback.  Joe Flacco might actually be the best quarterback in the division….The Bengals have the best roster in the division, but major question marks at head coach and quarterback….The Steelers will almost certainly finish in the Top 5 in offense, but there are major holes on defense and it will be tough to win shootouts every week….The Browns are the Browns.  No quarterback, few weapons on offense and that equates to yet another last place finish.

Mark Gunnels-

1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Cincinnati Bengals
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. Cleveland Browns

The top three teams are pretty interchangeable here, and the Cleveland Browns still don’t have a quarterback, so expect for them to finish last once again. Pittsburgh arguably has the most dynamic set of skill position players in the league offensively and when you couple that with Big Ben, expect for this offense to be super dynamic. Cincy and Baltimore will have good defenses, but both offenses get too stagnant at times. Pittsburgh’s defense was bad last year, but I don’t think it’ll be bad enough this year to hold them back from taking the division crown.

Bo Marchionte-

1. Cincinnati Bengals
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. Baltimore Ravens
4. Cleveland Browns

The margin for error to win this division is like walking the width of tight-rope. Any slip up by Cincinnati, Pittsburgh or Baltimore will leave them missing out on a division crown. The Bengals were in the driver’s seat for much of last season and faded down the stretch. Their running game should be one of the leagues best with the combo of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard providing a dynamic one-two punch. Quarterback Andy Dalton should have his top two receiving threats healthy in receiver A.J. Green and tight end Tyler Eifert. Green was banged up and managed to play in 13 games while Eifert missed every game except one. The Bengals repeat their 2013 performance and win the ultra competitive AFC North title in 2015.

Jeff Carlson-

1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. Cincinnati Bengals
4. Cleveland Browns

I won’t argue anyone that says the Ravens will win this division, but just like I believed Tom Brady and the Patriots had another run in them, I believe Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers have another championship (division) run in them as well.  Mike Tomlin isn’t going anywhere.
John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco are steady and dependable and will be there at the end, fighting for it.  I would like to see Andy Dalton lead his team to greater heights, I just don’t think the organization is solid enough to help.  And the sad-sack Browns don’t even pretend to be anything other than the sad-sack Browns, do they?

John Owning-

1. Cincinnati Bengals
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Cleveland Browns

The Bengals have one of the best rosters in the NFL from top to bottom. If Andy Dalton can hold it together and not mess things up, the Bengals could be among the best teams in the NFL. The Ravens are another well-rounded squad, but with Joe Flacco at the helm, they should be battling it out with the Bengals all season. The Steelers are loaded on offense, but the defense doesn’t look too good right now. It’s a shame the Browns don’t have a competent quarterback right now because they have one of the best offensive lines in football, which means they are destined for last place.

Devon Jeffreys-

1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. Cincinnati Bengals
4. Cleveland Browns
The Pittsburgh Steelers are my very early favorite to hoist the Lombardi Trophy next February, and that starts with another AFC North title…the offense has record-setting potential and I think they’ll come around surprisingly quick on defense…I don’t have as much belief in Baltimore as many seem to, but they’re very good and should be in line to make the playoffs from here…I have even less belief in the Bengals. Love their offense, except for the guy running it. Their defense was awful last year and doesn’t look much better…the Browns might have the best defense in the division, but can they score at all?

 


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.