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Old 06-13-2007, 07:53 PM   #1
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Default ESPN's Ultimate Depth Chart: AFC North

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Ultimate Depth Chart: AFC North

ESPN.com

Updated: June 13, 2007, 12:44 PM ET


It's always a long summer in anticipation of the new NFL season, but "SportsCenter" has come up with a way to keep your attention aimed between the end zones.

ULTIMATE DEPTH CHART


AFC North

Best offense in the AFC North?
Mark Schlereth: Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals easily have the best offense in the division. The Bengals have the ability to be as explosive as any team in the league through the air and can run the ball with the best of them. This offense will miss WR Chris Henry, who is out for eight games while serving a league-mandated suspension, but the Bengals will be just fine throwing to T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson while he's out.

Merril Hoge: Bengals
This is a complete offense with QB Carson Palmer, WR Johnson and one of the most underrated running backs in the league with Rudi Johnson running the rock. They can cut you so many different ways with those three guys because there is no area of the field they can't attack. Johnson has the ability to run any route that is thrown at him, and Palmer can make all the throws.

Joe Theismann: Bengals
This is an explosive team with one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Palmer. What makes this offense better than most is its offensive line, which does an amazing job of keeping defenders off Palmer and giving Johnson time to hit his holes and accelerate into the second level of the defense.

Best defense in the AFC North?
Schlereth: Baltimore Ravens
You can't bet against a defense that is led by Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. These two are perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidates. They are smart and aggressive and know not only where they should be but also where every defender on the field should be at all times. This means that when a younger defender makes a mistake, Reed and Lewis can process that information quickly and do what is necessary to rectify the situation. That may mean filling a spot on the fly or changing the game plan and showing the quarterback a different look to force him away from that area. Simply put, these two play chess on the field, and that's why the Ravens are the best in the AFC North.

Hoge: Ravens
The Ravens are still the best, even with vaunted defender Adalius Thomas leaving to go to New England via free agency. This is one of the most versatile and aggressive defenses in the league, as they can mix it up to confuse basically any quarterback in the league. This is the type of defense that offensive coordinators brew extra pots of coffee to get ready to face.

Theismann: Ravens
This is a team with a slew of Pro Bowl-caliber players at every level. Defensive coordinator Rex Ryan loves versatility, and the Ravens have the personnel not only to execute Ryan's complex schemes but also to thrive in them. This is an extreme, aggressive brand of defensive football.

Best team in the AFC North?
Schlereth: Ravens
While defense leads the Ravens, they will get a huge shot in the arm offensively with the arrival of RB Willis McGahee. He's the type of big-play threat that has been missing from the Ravens' offense in recent years. He and QB Steve McNair should lead this team to a division title.

Hoge: Bengals
The Bengals get the nod because of the defensive improvements they've made. Don't forget that coach Marvin Lewis is one of the foremost defensive minds in the league. There's no doubt that he hasn't been happy in recent years with the play of his defense, but that is subject to change as he finally has the type of personnel necessary for him to finally execute his schemes.

Theismann: Ravens
McNair and McGahee are the reasons why Baltimore is my pick. McNair is one of the best leaders in football, and he has another year under his belt with coach Brian Billick's offensive scheme and with his receivers. Bringing in McGahee gives this team the type of big-play threat that hasn't been seen in Baltimore from the running-back position since Jamal Lewis' 2,000-yard season.
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2902803
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Old 06-13-2007, 08:02 PM   #2
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Default Re: ESPN's Ultimate Depth Chart: AFC North

hoge is working overtime to shake his steelers homerism image. i guess he wants to be taken a bit more seriously. calling marvin lewis one of the foremost defensive minds in the league is about as "old hat" as calling brian billick" an offensive genius.

while people slobber all over the bungles offense they forget how long tj and chad took in the league before anyone even knew who they were as they discount the steelers wr's abilities to improve.

funny about rudi. last year he was probably one of the most overrated backs in the league. now that he had a mediocre year, hes suddenly "underrated"
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Old 06-13-2007, 09:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: ESPN's Ultimate Depth Chart: AFC North

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hoge is working overtime to shake his steelers homerism image. i guess he wants to be taken a bit more seriously. calling marvin lewis one of the foremost defensive minds in the league is about as "old hat" as calling brian billick" an offensive genius.

while people slobber all over the bungles offense they forget how long tj and chad took in the league before anyone even knew who they were as they discount the steelers wr's abilities to improve.

funny about rudi. last year he was probably one of the most overrated backs in the league. now that he had a mediocre year, hes suddenly "underrated"
That's for sure. I think he's performing though a jinx on the rest of the division so the Steelers win it all.
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Old 06-13-2007, 11:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: ESPN's Ultimate Depth Chart: AFC North

I'm not entirely sure McGahee can be hyped up anymore than he is...

What a joke
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Old 06-13-2007, 11:44 PM   #5
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Default Re: ESPN's Ultimate Depth Chart: AFC North

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I'm not entirely sure McGahee can be hyped up anymore than he is...

What a joke
Totally agree there. McGahee is by far no elite RB..
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Old 06-14-2007, 12:55 AM   #6
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Default Re: ESPN's Ultimate Depth Chart: AFC North

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Originally Posted by tony hipchest View Post
while people slobber all over the bungles offense they forget how long tj and chad took in the league before anyone even knew who they were as they discount the steelers wr's abilities to improve.
I don't think anyone's discounting the Steelers receivers' abilities to improve, it's just simply the fact that it'll take time for all of them to come into their own. It took Chad a couple of years; it took TJ 3 or 4. Santonio Holmes should develop into one of the better receivers in the AFC, if not the league and Willie Reid has some serious potential as well. They just still need some time to adjust to the NFL.

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funny about rudi. last year he was probably one of the most overrated backs in the league. now that he had a mediocre year, hes suddenly "underrated"
I don't think anyone will ever label Rudi Johnson as an elite back in the NFL. He is what he is...a downhill runner, a "run right over you not around you" kind of guy. You're pretty much guaranteed 1300-1400 yards out of him each year with 10+ td's. He's not by any means the "complete" back, but he's consistent and good at what he does.

Hopefully Kenny Irons will turn into more of that "do-it-all" type of back.
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Old 06-14-2007, 01:08 AM   #7
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Default Re: ESPN's Ultimate Depth Chart: AFC North

I think Tony is pretty much spot on about Hoge, he was full of sh*t as a biased Steelers homer and now his new 'Steelers who?' philosophy smells of the brown stuff too.

I'll always remember the total lack of respect he has paid the Patriots before the AFCCG's against Pittsburgh - these games wouldn't even be close in Hoge's book - Bettis was going to run all over us, Brady would be eating dirt all day - and that was that.

The painting of Lewis as a defensive mastermind is way past its sell by date.

The Bengals get the 'best offense' award by default - they seem to be good at running up the score on poor teams (granted, they put 40 on the Chargers!) but I was underwhelmed by their effort against the Patriots.

The Ravens are the shoe-in for best defense for alot of obvious reasons - namely best players, best coaching and best production.

Overall best team?

Ravens for me - give me a solid D over an over-rated sometimes explosive offense any day of the week.
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Old 06-14-2007, 06:04 AM   #8
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Default Re: ESPN's Ultimate Depth Chart: AFC North

It's so easy to pick the Ravens. They won the division last year. The Keyword is last year. Some may say they have no weakness on paper, but that's why we play the game. The Ravens are not unbeatable. The Bengals gave them trouble, why can't we? Simple, Cowher was a lame duck and painfully predictable on offense and defense that year. The Ravens were good, but we weren't THAT bad.

But like so many have said in this thread, Their D is ferocious and is the bread and butter of that team.
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Old 06-14-2007, 12:47 PM   #9
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Default Re: ESPN's Ultimate Depth Chart: AFC North

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It's so easy to pick the Ravens. They won the division last year. The Keyword is last year. Some may say they have no weakness on paper, but that's why we play the game. The Ravens are not unbeatable. The Bengals gave them trouble, why can't we? Simple, Cowher was a lame duck and painfully predictable on offense and defense that year. The Ravens were good, but we weren't THAT bad.

But like so many have said in this thread, Their D is ferocious and is the bread and butter of that team.
I'd pick the Ravens too. They're only big loss was Adailius Thomas, but they're so stacked on defense it doesn't matter. They've also got a better back in Willis McGahee (he will be good behind that o-line) and Steve McNair will know the offensive system that much better.
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Old 06-14-2007, 03:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: ESPN's Ultimate Depth Chart: AFC North

I know we all saw the egg the Bengals laid last year against the Colts and the Patriots. The Colts game was one of the worst coached games, especially on the defensive side, I have ever seen and the Pats game was horribly executed. Of course since this is a Steelers message board, I will mention December 31, 2006. Steelers 23-17. Where was the defense? Win and they were in. When a slant rout that is designed to go for 7-12 yards goes for 60+ and for a TD... Lets not forget that the Bengals, with their "high powered offense", were 8-8 last year as well. Where was the defense on January 8, 2006? The Bengals were up by 17 points and lost.

Lastly, about a Bengals fan ripping the Steelers team/fans about living in the past, If you had a past you would not be saying that. So do not be jealous. The Bengals are only marginally better than the Browns. But at least the Browns have more players, over the last 40 years, in the Hall of Fame. Besides I am sure you took the quote out of context.

My AFC North team to beat is unfortunately the Ravens. My only other question is when will the Bengals win their next playoff game? 16 years since their last one and only 5 times since 1970. That is a good trade, for every playoff win the Bengals get we get a SB ring.
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