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Old 07-30-2008, 10:00 AM   #1
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Default Fearless AFC North Predictions

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Fearless AFC North predictions

July 29, 2008 11:00 AM

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

With all four training camps officially underway in the AFC North, there is no better time to look into the crystal ball.

But these predictions are a little different because they don't state the obvious. Many are going out on a limb, which could draw responses such as, "Are you crazy?"

With that in mind, here are four fearless predictions from training camp representing each AFC North team:

1. Cleveland Browns: Rookie LB Alex Hall will make the 53-man roster.

This is the most talented team the Browns have had since returning to the NFL in 1999. Still, seventh-round pick Hall from tiny St. Augustine will make the initial 53-man roster. Keep in mind, just one seventh-rounder has made the Browns out of training camp in the Romeo Crennel-Phil Savage era. But Hall, although he's very raw, has just what the Browns need at outside linebacker with athleticism and the ability to rush the passer. Even if that's all Hall can do, it will make it tough for Cleveland to cut him. If Hall proves to be solid on special teams, he could be a lock.


2. Cincinnati Bengals: Marcus Maxwell will win the No. 3 receiver job.

I know what you're thinking. Who is Maxwell? My point exactly. Maxwell has been quietly on the lips of the Bengals' coaching staff all offseason for his playmaking and work ethic in practice. The question is can Maxwell translate that into actual games? Maxwell is big at 6-foot-3. He has nice quickness and great hands. It may be enough to replace Chris Henry in 2008. Check here for a profile on Maxwell from Bengals camp later today.


3. Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco will start in week one.

This will not be a shock to regular readers of this blog. I've held this prediction for months since I watched all three quarterbacks throw in minicamp. There are many unknowns with Flacco. First, he's a rookie. Second, he has yet to take a hit. Third, we don't know how well he can read defenses. But Flacco physically is superior to his two competitors, Troy Smith and Kyle Boller. Flacco is taller, throws the best ball and has the strongest arm. That gives him enough of a chance to win the job in week one.


4. Pittsburgh Steelers: LeCharles Bentley eventually will sign with Pittsburgh.

The Steelers and Bengals were two teams within the AFC North that showed preliminary interest in Bentley this summer. Bentley, if healthy, has a chance to make an impact at guard for Pittsburgh. He is a natural center but Justin Hartwig is expected to start there. Although Bentley is a Cleveland native, he was not a happy camper when he left the Browns because of the way his knee injury was handled. So what better way to get back at the Browns by playing for their biggest rival?
http://myespn.go.com/blogs/afcnorth/...edictions.html
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Old 07-30-2008, 10:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: Fearless AFC North Predictions

Wow! I'm not sure which I'm more skeptical of, Flacco or Bentley.
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Old 07-30-2008, 10:16 AM   #3
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Default Re: Fearless AFC North Predictions

This guy is crazy.

Cleveland-Not taking the division and continuously CHOKES
Cincinnati-Until a Defense Shows up will not win too many Football Games
Baltimore-Has their heads up their arse
Pittsburgh-Until Further Notice, they will continue to be the class of the division
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Old 07-30-2008, 11:06 AM   #4
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Default Re: Fearless AFC North Predictions

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Originally Posted by SteelCityMan786 View Post
This guy is crazy.
Maybe, but I'll give him credit for putting himself out there and not making a "bold prediction" like the Patriots winning the AFC Least (again). Predicting Flacco to start over Smith is a very bold prediction.
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Old 07-30-2008, 11:08 AM   #5
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Default Re: Fearless AFC North Predictions

JUST had this conversation with a co-worker:

If the Ravens start Flacco, he will be Timmy Couch II. Flacco doesn't have anywhere near the elusiveness Smith does, and the Ravens OL is not going to be what it used to be.

I also don't think 1-4 was a team ranking, he just numbered them that way.
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Old 07-30-2008, 11:24 AM   #6
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Default Re: Fearless AFC North Predictions

I don't know that I'd call any of this a Bold prediction either. It's more like educated guess for overlooked areas of each team.

It's easy to overlook what Hall is doing when everyone's focus is on Anderson/Quinn and the D-line.

The Bengals need a new #3 WR for their style of offense to be most effective. Naming a candidate to fill the void from a pretty thin crew of backups isn't a difficult choice.

The Ravens "bold prediction" is based on the fact that they took Flacco so high. Teams tend to like players with "guns" which he obviously does.

The Steelers (with some question marks on their line) is about the "boldest" statement he's made (IMO). Even then, it's not much of a stretch to see Bentley going to a blue collar team (and contender) where he has a chance to shine.

I wasn't as impressed with this list as I initially thought I would be. Still, like fansince'76 says, it's far better than the typical "Patriots will win their division" spew we're used to receiving.
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Old 07-30-2008, 02:26 PM   #7
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Default Re: Fearless AFC North Predictions

No duh Alex Hall makes the team. He is a raw talent, and with a couple years, you will be hearing alot outta him
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Old 07-30-2008, 03:06 PM   #8
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Default Re: Fearless AFC North Predictions

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Originally Posted by SteelCityMan786 View Post
This guy is crazy.

Cleveland-Not taking the division and continuously CHOKES
Cincinnati-Until a Defense Shows up will not win too many Football Games
Baltimore-Has their heads up their arse
Pittsburgh-Until Further Notice, they will continue to be the class of the division
The numbers don't represent the rankings of the teams, they're just randomly numbered.

Although the predictions aren't God-like, it looked like he actually knew something about the teams he mentioned. I'm surprised anyone other than the most die-hard Bengals fans would know who Marcus Maxwell is, let alone predict that he'd be the Bengals #3 receiver.

The Browns prediction was sort of ho-hum. As far as the Ravens go, I'd be really surprised to see Flacco starting from week one. The Steelers seem like a logical destination for Bentley, but I'd think they would have already pulled the trigger by now.
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Old 07-30-2008, 04:48 PM   #9
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Default Re: Fearless AFC North Predictions

Bentley at Guard?

That would be fun and interesting to watch!!
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: Fearless AFC North Predictions

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No duh Alex Hall makes the team. He is a raw talent, and with a couple years, you will be hearing alot outta him
Considering he's a seventh rounder out of nowhere, what will we be hearing from him, exactly? "Want fries with that?" or "Cleanup on aisle five?"
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