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Old 07-13-2008, 02:53 PM   #1
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Default AFC North could produce sub-.500 Champion

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_yl...=tsn&type=lgns

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One of the most compelling arguments against expanding the NFL playoffs from 12 teams is that having 14 or 16 teams in the postseason could result in a sub-.500 squad qualifying for the Super Bowl tournament.

There’s a chance, however, that it could happen in 2008—under the current system.

Each of the AFC North teams—Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers—will play each of the teams of the AFC South, which sent three teams (Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans) to the 2007 playoffs. And each of the AFC North teams will play all the teams of the NFC East, which sent three teams (Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and New York Giants) to the playoffs last season as well.

That’s half the entire schedule—and emerging from those eight games with a 4-4 record figures to be the best outcome possible for any of the AFC North teams.

The question then becomes whether any of the AFC North teams can dominate in the home-and-home round-robin portion of the schedule. Last year, it was a 5-1 division mark that, coupled with a mediocre 5-5 record in their other 10 games, allowed the Steelers to edge out the Browns via a tiebreaker.

This year, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether any one team can do better than 3-3 in the six divisional games.

It’s more interesting because even the supposedly good teams in the AFC North have flaws and the supposedly bad teams have potential.

The Browns are the trendy pick to win the AFC North, but the expectations and pressure could make it difficult for Cleveland to improve on last year’s “close but no dog bone” effort. The Browns start the season with a game against the Cowboys and then one each against the AFC North rivals.

We’ll know by October whether the Browns can succeed while waving the flag of front-runner.

The Steelers won’t give up their title quietly, but they haven’t done much in the offseason to improve. Their offensive line is going to be a major problem. And if the Steelers can’t score or win the field position tug of war, more stress will be placed on an aging defense.

On the surface, the Bengals seem to be in disarray. However, if new coordinator Mike Zimmer gets control of a porous defense, the team could be far more competitive in ‘08. If the Bengals get off to a quick start in September—minimizing the chances of a Chad Johnson meltdown—they could keep things close in the division.

Then there are the Ravens. With low expectations and a high likelihood of being overlooked by opponents, the team with an energetic and respected new coach, John Harbaugh, could stir things up. Just two seasons ago, Baltimore was 13-3. Sure, the roster has undergone some changes, but there’s enough left for the Ravens to be competitive.

The kicker in the AFC North could be the two remaining games on the schedule:

• The Steelers, by virtue of winning the division, will play the Patriots (16-0 last year) and Chargers (11-5). Ouch.
• The Browns get the Bills (7-9) and Broncos (7-9).
• The Bengals play the Jets (4-12) and Chiefs (4-12).
• And the Ravens face the Dolphins (1-15) and Raiders (4-12).

Whether the Steelers, Browns, Bengals or Ravens can get to .500 comes back to those eight games against the AFC South and NFC East. A uniform failure by the AFC North’s squads in those eight games could lead to the first 7-9 division winner in league history. And if the AFC North champion finishes 8-8, it’ll be only the second time that a .500 team has won a division. (It happened in 1985, when the Browns won the old AFC Central.)

Regardless of who wins the division, don’t expect to see double-digit wins. And, for the three runners-up, don’t be surprised to see each have double-digit losses.
I seriously don't think that this division's champion won't be any worse than 9-7.

I think the Steelers can sweep the Bengals and Ravens at at worst split with Cleveland. That's 5 wins right there. I beleive we can beat the Redskins, Tennessee, and Philadelphia. That's 8 wins right there to put us at .500. We stomp the Texans in the opener so that' 9 wins, above .500.

I also don't expect us to lose all of the following games: @ Jax, Dallas, @ new England, NY Giants, San Diego.

So saying not to expect a double-digit win team out of this conference is bull, IMHO.
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Old 07-13-2008, 03:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: AFC North could produce sub-.500 Champion

I agree, we'll definately finish over .500 if we're going to win the division. We'll sweep both the Bengals and Ravens and we'll have tough games against the Browns, so we have it much easier than most teams within the division.

I don't see us losing to any NFC team except mabye for Dallas. Also, our time has come to get revenge on Jacksonville.The remaining to games against New England and San Diego will be challenging but if we beat one of them I'd be very happy.

Every year I look at the schedule and I think that we'll win all 16 games. The only year it almost happened was 2004. I guess I should stop being so optimistic and just see what happens.
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Old 07-13-2008, 03:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: AFC North could produce sub-.500 Champion



steelers will win the division with 10+ wins
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Old 07-13-2008, 03:21 PM   #4
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Default Re: AFC North could produce sub-.500 Champion

Steelers need to go at least 4-2 in the division to cover for a tougher out of division schedule. I think the Ravens are going to be horrible and who knows what is going on with the Bengals, so 4-2 in the division certainly should be doable.

The early season Sunday night game in Cleveland will be huge in terms of setting the tone for who is the team to beat in the AFC North.
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Old 07-13-2008, 03:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: AFC North could produce sub-.500 Champion

I am thinking 10 and 6 with anything more, being icing on the cake as the saying goes.....................
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Old 07-13-2008, 03:50 PM   #6
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Default Re: AFC North could produce sub-.500 Champion

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AFC North could produce sub-.500 Champion
So could the NFC West. And NFC South, for that matter. Next.
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Old 07-13-2008, 04:23 PM   #7
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Default Re: AFC North could produce sub-.500 Champion

10-6 will win the Division and that will be us. And I actually think Cincy will finish second with a 7-9 record. If anything the Cleveland Indians collapse this year should remind Browns fans every year is differant.
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Old 07-13-2008, 04:34 PM   #8
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Default Re: AFC North could produce sub-.500 Champion

I want to know where it is written that teams who had a winning season and made the playoffs last year (Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and New York Giants) are unbeatable by other teams who had a winning season and made the playoffs i.e. our Steelers! F@*! the schedule and all the ominous drums that are beating sounding our teams demise! All the "experts" can kiss my arse! These are the same douchebags who if you had listened to them, you wouldn't have seen marsha brady get squashed in the SB!

I for one am looking forward to this so called "hardest schedule"! I think it will keep this team from becoming complacent! Look what happened last year against the jets and cardinals! Two teams the Steelers should have beat!

BRING ON THE LEAGUES TOUGHEST SCHEDULE!!!
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Old 07-13-2008, 04:45 PM   #9
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Default Re: AFC North could produce sub-.500 Champion

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Originally Posted by Hammer Of The GODS View Post
I want to know where it is written that teams who had a winning season and made the playoffs last year (Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and New York Giants) are unbeatable by other teams who had a winning season and made the playoffs i.e. our Steelers!
It's written in the same article that predicts the Steelers to "have trouble scoring," discounting the fact that the Steelers scored more points last season (393) than any season since 1995 (407). Consider the source (Florio, who's an idiot anyway).
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Old 07-13-2008, 04:58 PM   #10
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Default Re: AFC North could produce sub-.500 Champion

Any team could win the AFC North next season if things fall in place for them.

The Steelers probably look like the most complete team on paper, but they also have the toughest schedule, especially down the stretch. Their o-line would probably be the biggest area of concern.

If Cleveland's offense can be as productive as last season, they'll be right there. The big question is their defense, specifically their thin secondary.

The Bengals can certainly score with anybody and a healthy backfield certainly couldn't hurt, their biggest question will also be on defense, specifically their pass rush.

Baltimore has been counted out by everybody this off-season, but if they can get some consistent play out of their QB, be it Flacco, Smith or Boller, their defense will be good enough to keep them in games. Plus, they probably have the weakest schedule.

Point is, right now anyone has a chance. We'll see what happens come September. I do think 9, 10 wins could take the division this year.
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