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Old 02-13-2014, 04:10 PM   #1
Steelerspride
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Default State of AFC North Franchises

Winning your division is the first goal for every team because it guarantees you one home playoff game. Now, a lot will happen from now until the 2014 season kicks off, but now that the Seahawks are the reigning champs (which hopefully now they can stop crying about Super Bowl XL) and the 2013 season is over and the dust has settled, it is a great time to look at the state of the franchises in our division.

The Baltimore Ravens:
Baltimore can not be happy with Joe Flacco's performance after getting a huge contract. Flacco had his worst year of his career, and so will he be able to bounce back? Even if he does bounce back he was never anything more than solid as he has a career 83.7 QB Rating. Their defense last year was probably their biggest reason they even got to 8 wins. The Ravens have always had a great to solid defense but it was definitely more on the solid side last year. Not only did Flacco have his worst year, Ray Rice did as well. Ray Rice is still young but that surely was a depressing season for him. If their defense doesn't do good next year, they could be in for a long season. If their defense does well, and Flacco and Rice bounce back, they will surely be in contention for the playoffs but I'm not so sure they will be able to bounce back.
I would predict about 6-7 wins for them next year right now.

The Cincinnati Bengals:
Cincinnati is not in a good state of mind right now. Three straight one n done seasons has got to have them feeling sick, especially since they haven't won a playoff game in over 20 years. They quite frankly, HAD to win at least one game this year. They had San Diego (Yes it should have been us) at home where they were 8-0, and what do they do, THEY LOST. And it really wasn't close. Andy Dalton has been nothing more that a solid QB with a career 85.7 QB Rating, and Andy Dalton has always had AJ Green to throw to. Unless Andy Dalton has to get better this year because if he has a bad year like Flacco, that could be the end for him. Their defense was very good last year and I'm sure they'll be at least solid next year, but I wouldn't be surprised if they took a step backward as they will also have a new D coordinator. I would predict about 8-9 wins for them.

The Cleveland Browns:
Oh God, Cleveland. Who will save their souls? We can pretty much write this team off every year. We've been doing it and we've been right, so we could probably write them off for another 15 years before they can say "HAH, WE SHOWED YOU". I would predict about 4-5 wins for them.

And for the moment we've all been waiting for, The Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh had another 500 season but it seems like a world of difference from 2012 to 2013. Yes we started 0-4 and that was the biggest reason we didn't make the playoffs. But after starting 2-6, we finished 6-2. That is very impressive. Not many teams can do that. Most teams that start 2-6 finish like 4-12. We didn't give up and now we're soaring into 2014. Ben Roethlisberger had another great year like all elite QBs do. His 92.6 career QB Rating shows it. Bottom line is when Big Ben is healthy we always have a chance. There is no reason to expect him to regress any time soon. In fact, Big Ben was among the least sacked QBs in the 2nd half of the season. That speaks volumes. Ben has always been sacked a lot and many times banged up because of this. Ben was healthy all year and had this offense looking like the real deal. Le' Veon Bell was very good with what he had to work with, and he was a rookie. Bell could very well get 1000 yards next year. Antonio Brown, nuff said. Our Defense is our biggest question mark. It wasn't a good year defensively, but we're spoiled with our Defense. Our Defense was still 13th, and I don't think we'd get any worse. I see us getting better. Cam Heyward will have big expectations, and Jarvis Jones(some people, it just takes time) will prove himself to be valuable. Dick Lebeau will have teams fearing the Steel Curtain once again. I predict 11-12 wins for us and a 7th lombardi trophy (lol jus kiddin, no im not).

LET'S DOMINATE THIS DIVISION
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Old 02-13-2014, 05:19 PM   #2
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Default Re: State of AFC North Franchises

Cincinnati is the class of the division. Their D is legit and they played exceptional last year while sustaining a slew of injuries. They probably won't advance in the playoffs should they make it, but they're a lock for [at least] nine wins.

Pittsburgh is the Wild Card of the division. The offense has been there when healthy. Throw in youth like Bell, DeCastro, AB, etc. and it should only get better. Big Ben gives them a chance to win every game. If the D can incorporate some youth and get back to pre-2012 levels then they're a 10+ win team. If the D stalls and/or Big Ben gets hurt, then... 8 win ceiling (see 2012-13).

Baltimore is stuck in that 'very good' range. They're Pittsburgh lite, only with offense and defense trajectories flipped. Their D is still solid, but their O is *ahem* underwhelming. Flacco doesn't have Big Ben's intangibles. Ray Rice seems to have hit that RB wall. Who's catching the ball? Is the O-line fixed? Will Kubiak fix the offense? More questions than answers here. Best case eight wins.

Cleveland is the dark horse/sleeper team who is probably a few years away. Their FO is clearly a mess and how knows how their new HC will fare? Then they have to transition with a new QB/RB combo (and OC). Their D should be stout, but there's too much dysfunction here to see more than six wins. Their 10 losses should be closer than usual though.
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Old 02-13-2014, 05:31 PM   #3
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Default Re: State of AFC North Franchises

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Cincinnati is the class of the division. Their D is legit and they played exceptional last year while sustaining a slew of injuries. They probably won't advance in the playoffs should they make it, but they're a lock for [at least] nine wins.

Pittsburgh is the Wild Card of the division. The offense has been there when healthy. Throw in youth like Bell, DeCastro, AB, etc. and it should only get better. Big Ben gives them a chance to win every game. If the D can incorporate some youth and get back to pre-2012 levels then they're a 10+ win team. If the D stalls and/or Big Ben gets hurt, then... 8 win ceiling (see 2012-13).

Baltimore is stuck in that 'very good' range. They're Pittsburgh lite, only with offense and defense trajectories flipped. Their D is still solid, but their O is *ahem* underwhelming. Flacco doesn't have Big Ben's intangibles. Ray Rice seems to have hit that RB wall. Who's catching the ball? Is the O-line fixed? Will Kubiak fix the offense? More questions than answers here. Best case eight wins.

Cleveland is the dark horse/sleeper team who is probably a few years away. Their FO is clearly a mess and how knows how their new HC will fare? Then they have to transition with a new QB/RB combo (and OC). Their D should be stout, but there's too much dysfunction here to see more than six wins. Their 10 losses should be closer than usual though.
There's a good chance the Bengals miss the playoffs. They lost their OC and DC and Marvin Lewis is an adequate coach at best. Plus, Andy Dalton.

We're going to win the AFC North.

Cleveland needs a Quarterback, but that's easier said than done. They don't grow on trees. They may also need a pair of Safeties if Ward leaves, a Center if Mack leaves, a RG, a pair of Defensive Ends, an Inside Linebacker, a second CB and a legitimate RB. They're not a team that is going to do anything anytime soon.
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Old 02-13-2014, 05:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: State of AFC North Franchises

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There's a good chance the Bengals miss the playoffs. They lost their OC and DC and Marvin Lewis is an adequate coach at best. Plus, Andy Dalton.

We're going to win the AFC North.
I had forgotten about their Coordinator losses, but the Bengals still have the most talent of the division.

Marvin is Jim Mora 2.0 and Dalton is a very poor man's Warren Moon (it's tough to find comparisons for QBs who can't win in the playoffs... maybe Jim Everett 2.0?), but they should still be able to win nine games.

As for the Steelers, the same reason that they should win the North 'in theory' is why the Bengals should not be overlooked.

It's fair to say that PIT has more potential than CIN (or any team in the division), but this is the Bengals division to lose.
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Old 02-13-2014, 05:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: State of AFC North Franchises

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I had forgotten about their Coordinator losses, but the Bengals still have the most talent of the division.

Marvin is Jim Mora 2.0 and Dalton is a very poor man's Warren Moon (it's tough to find comparisons for QBs who can't win in the playoffs... maybe Jim Everett 2.0?), but they should still be able to win nine games.

As for the Steelers, the same reason that they should win the North 'in theory' is why the Bengals should not be overlooked.

It's fair to say that PIT has more potential than CIN (or any team in the division), but this is the Bengals division to lose.
They have more talent on defense, sure. On offense? Debatable. They have a top 5 receiver, but so do we. Le'Veon bell looks like he's better than Bernard and it really doesn't even look all that close. Their offensive line is better as of this moment, but ours has the potential to have two All Pro's, along with a Pro Bowl Tackle on it under Munchak.

We have something they don't have, and that's a franchise Quarterback. A franchise Quarterback can mask a lot of issues on offense, and our offense seems to be just blossoming while they're going under a slight transitional period with a new offensive coordinator and, well, Andy Dalton. God Andy Dalton is bad.

Their defense (more accurately, their front seven as that secondary is pretty barren of talent) can only take them so far.
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Old 02-13-2014, 05:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: State of AFC North Franchises

Or to focus on flaws (wins ceiling):

BAL: Offense. 20 ppg and a bottom-10 run game is not going to cut it. (Nine... maybe 10 wins)

CIN: Leadership and scheme transition (coordinators). This team will rely on D and their ceiling is reliant on Dalton and coaching (a scary thought). (13 wins; remember, they won 11 games with a banged up D)

CLE: Offense, leadership and team management. If/when this team stops killing itself it may realize its potential. (Six... maybe seven wins; seven seems like a super best case scenario)

PIT: Defense and health. This team is running out of time and excuses. (11 or 12 wins)
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Old 02-13-2014, 06:19 PM   #7
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Default Re: State of AFC North Franchises

How many picks do Browns have this year, like a gazillion? If they can use those picks to muster up a QB and RB they could be legit contenders. Their defense is pretty solid.
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Old 02-13-2014, 07:02 PM   #8
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Default Re: State of AFC North Franchises

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How many picks do Browns have this year, like a gazillion? If they can use those picks to muster up a QB and RB they could be legit contenders. Their defense is pretty solid.
It's not easy to just find a Quarterback. They've been trying for 40 years. I really, really hope they take Manziel to set themselves back once again too.
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Old 02-13-2014, 07:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: State of AFC North Franchises

I think the Division crown will be another dogfight. I think the Steelers will split with the Bengals and Ravens and beat the Browns both times. The Steelers just aren't really that much better or worse than the Ravens and Bengals to be considered a cut above. The team has a ton of question marks on the defensive side of the ball and if Sanders leaves The WR corp will need some new faces to step up big time. Regardless of whether the Bengals or Ravens are "good", history shows AFCC games are tight and low scoring. I think the Steelers improve to 9-7 as a last stand for players like Ike, Troy, Woodley and Miller, but even if they make the playoffs I don't think this team goes deep as I can't see them improving much. This will be the same team that lost to the Raiders, Vikings and Titans and really beat few teams of significance all year.
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Old 02-13-2014, 08:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: State of AFC North Franchises

Rather than start another thread, I will post here a link to the following SI.com rankings of the outlooks for off season roster improvement of all NFL teams - pretty grim assessment of the Steelers

Ranking teams by offseason outlook

Now that the season is over, the real reality checks come in for NFL teams. How adeptly have they stocked their rosters? How well have they balanced their salary cap budgets? Do they have the right coaches and executives in place to pick the right talent and develop it accordingly?

Over the next three months, between free agency and the draft, each team will certainly discover just how well it has prepared. Using a five-point scale (5 being the best, 1 — or in some cases lower — the worst) across four categories (pending free agents, cap space, amount of draft picks, track record of GM/management) SI’s Chris Burke and Doug Farrar preview the offseason outlook for every NFL team, from the best situations to the worst....

13. Baltimore Ravens

Breakdown: FAs: 1.5 | Cap: 3 | Draft: 3 | GM: 4 | TOTAL: 11.5

Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome didn’t have much time to enjoy his team’s Super Bowl XLVII victory. He watched Ed Reed and Ray Lewis walk away for good, had to pay the piper on Joe Flacco’s future and grossly underestimated the value of Anquan Boldin. The result? An 8-8 record, and Baltimore’s first season without a playoff game since 2007. Now, an offense that fell flat on its face and a run game that was the league’s worst in 2013 are in need of fixing. There’s nearly $12 million in cap room for Newsome, but also several key free agents (Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta and Michael Oher among them) on the hoof, which means that Newsome will have to pull off one of his better balancing acts to keep it together. ...

21. Cincinnati Bengals

Breakdown: FAs: 2 | Cap: 3 | Draft: 2 | GM: 3 | TOTAL: 10

The Bengals have the base talent to compete at the highest level, though there are two major questions coming into 2014: How will the loss of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to the Vikings affect that side of the ball, and can quarterback Andy Dalton transcend his limitations? Three straight first-round playoff eliminations have fans wanting more, but the team is in decent shape from a personnel perspective. Free agent defensive end Michael Johnson is the big name here, but offensive tackle Anthony Collins might be just as important to future operations. With $23.7 million in cap room, the Bengals are at least in the right space to make the tough calls. – DF...

30. Pittsburgh Steelers

Breakdown: FAs: 2 | Cap: 1.5 | Draft: 2 | GM: 2.5 | TOTAL: 8

It’s a known fact that the Steelers would have liked a better yield in their recent drafts. And general manager Kevin Colbert is a man very much in the firing line now as the Steelers try to re-fuel for a new generation of success with the need to pare down nearly $13 million in cap space just to get to zero. The formerly great defense slipped to the middle in 2013, and though protection improved for Ben Roethlisberger in the second half of the season, this was a team out of balance. And with more than a third of the roster lined up for free agency, it may be a while before this most stable of franchises is on top again. ...

32. Cleveland Browns

Breakdown: FAs: 2 | Cap: 4 | Draft: 4 | GM: -5 | TOTAL: 5

The Browns have $45.5 million in cap to spend in the new league year, and two first-round picks after fleecing the Colts in the Trent Richardson trade. There’s a lot of talent on defense, and a few real playmakers on the offensive side of things. In other words, everything needed to build a real NFL powerhouse. Unfortunately, a front office that deserves a far lower rating than the one we were able to give it (heck with it; we’re throwing the lowest grade possible at this mess) will almost unquestionably squander these great gifts. Because when your team owner is under federal investigation, and your organization has changed team presidents, general managers and head coaches at a dizzying rate, it’s hard to take anything you do seriously.


http://nfl.si.com/2014/02/12/nfl-pow...son-outlook/2/

Pretty clear Colbert's reputation for player personnel selection has pretty clearly taken a deserved hit and that another year of cap issues is a burden.
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