AFC North Preview: Ravens have talent for third straight crown

Division is loaded with talent

The Ravens are the two-time defending AFC North champions and have made several upgrades to an already talented core group of players.

The Steelers are looking to make a playoff run with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back in the lineup.

The Browns have a new coach in Kevin Stefanski and could be a potentially dangerous team because of the number of playmakers on their roster. 

The Bengals are building around rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, hoping he can be the catalyst for long-term success.

Here is the AFC North Outlook and Predictions.


1. Baltimore Ravens

Projected Record: 12-4

Biggest Question: Can Lamar Jackson win the first postseason game of his young career?

Analysis: The Ravens are one of the preseason favorites to reach the Super Bowl behind Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP, and 10 other players that made the Pro Bowl last season. Wide receiver Marquise Brown is expected to be one of the league's breakout players. The team added talent to the defensive line with the additions of Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe. Baltimore also received rave reviews for its 10-player draft class to support 


2. Pittsburgh Steelers

Biggest Question: How effective will Roethlisberger be after offseason elbow surgery? 

Projected Record: 10-6

Analysis: Roethlisberger, 38, has some weapons on offense with running back James Conner, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, and newly acquired tight end Eric Ebron. Pittsburgh should be dominant on the other side of the ball with T.J. Watt and Devin Bush at linebacker, along with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and cornerback Joe Haden patrolling the secondary. Pittsburgh should challenge for a wild-card spot in the playoffs. 


3 Cleveland Browns

Biggest question: Can the Browns start pulling in the same direction and end an 18-year playoff drought?

Projected Record: 10-6

Analysis: Stefanski has already put his stamp on the team and changing the culture. The Browns managed to avoid any controversial offseason headlines. Quarterback  Baker Mayfield is trying to get his career back on track and he has plenty of weapons to support him with running back Nick Chubb, wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry and tight ends Austin Hooper and David Njoku. Defensive end Myles Garrett leads a young, up-and-coming defense.


4. Cincinnati Bengals

Biggest Question: What impact will Burrow have in his first year?

Projected Record: 5-11

Analysis: Burrow has already won over his teammates with his work ethic. He has a couple of key targets with veteran wide receiver A.J. Green and the rookie, second-round pick Tee Higgins. Running back Joe Mixon will also help take some of the pressure off of Burrow. Cincinnati completely overhauled its defense by adding five free agents — defensive tackle D.J. Reader, cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander, linebacker Josh Bynes and safety Vonn Bell. However, Waynes suffered a torn pectoral muscle in training camp and could be out for the year. Veteran Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap should provide some punch on the defensive line.