Friday, August 22, 2008

AFC North Preview

The AFC North is known to be what I called the Blue Collar division. They have Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. I imagine most of their fans as blue collar, hard working Americans. Not that other fans are not like that but just this division from top to bottom just says "Blue Collar" to me.

Cleveland Browns (11-5) - Derek Anderson broke out last year and made an immediate connection with my boy Braylon Edwards. Kellen Winslow, Jamal Lewis and the newly acquired Donte' Stallworth give this offense plenty of fire power. The have Brady Quinn backing up Anderson should he fail. Their defense has problems namely in the secondary. They have a top 5 OL led by 2nd year man Joe Thomas. They filled a big need on the DL with the acquisition of Shaun Rogers and Corey Williams. The biggest problem with the Browns is their terrible secondary. They give up too many big plays and have to hope the offense can out score opponents. The only other question in my mind for this team is how much will Romeo Crenel way at the end of the season?
KEY LOSSES: No players but traded away top 3 picks in last years draft to get Rogers and co.
KEY ADDITIONS: DT Shaun Rogers, DT Corey Williams and CB Travis Daniels

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) - This is not your dad's Steelers. The days of smash mouth running the football with Bettis & co. are over. Now the offense revolves around Big Ben. He has a very good receiving corp led by Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes. Holmes showed last year that he is ready to be a legitimate #1 WR in the NFL. Willie Parker and rookie Rashard Mendenhall give them a good 1-2 punch at RB. As always their defense will be tough led by Troy Polamalu. Look for Lamar Woodley to break out. Former Tide standout and MS boy Deshea Townsend is the veteran in the secondary to lead the younger guys.
KEY LOSSES: G Alan Fanaca, T Max Starks, LB Clark Haggans and RB Najeh Davenport.
KEY ADDITIONS: RB Rashard Mendenhall, QB Byron Leftwich (JK), C Justin Hardwick, RB Mewelde Moore

Cincinnati Bengals (8-8) - This team has a lot of talent. The only problem is most of that talent can't stay outta trouble. WR Chris Henry is back but for how long? Former rookie LB standout Odell Thurman couldn't stay out of jail and is gone. Hell, the have had over 10 players arrested in the last couple years!! On with the predictions. Carson Palmer is a top QB and him along with TJ (holy last name) Houshmandzadeh and OCHO CINCO make a dangerous combination that can put up a lot of points. The only problem on offense is the run game. Rudi Johnson flopped last year and cant stay real healthy and former Michigan standout Chris Perry has done nothing. If they can get a productive run game then they can make the playoffs but if not I say no. Their defense is very bad and have no big time players. Their best player is former Tide DE Antwan Odom and could end up being rookie Keith Rivers. The over/under on the Bengals and Browns this year? I say 110?
KEY LOSSES: DE Justin Smith
KEY ADDITIONS: TE Ben Utecht, Rookie LB Keith Rivers

Baltimore Ravens (5-11) - Gone is Brian Billick and John Harbaugh is the new head coach. I think their offense will still struggle. Kyle Boller has been a bust and look for rookie Joe Flacco to take the starting gig at some point. Opposing defenses will stack the box and stop RB Willis McGahee and force either Troy Smith, Boller or Flacco to beat them with the pass. The heart and soul of this team still remains its defense. They hit you hard and come from all angles. Their DL is led by Haloti Ngata and Trevor Pryce. Their LB's are absolutely sick with future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis along with Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs. Now add in Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle, Dawan Landry and perennial pro bowler Ed "I got my heart in this &*%@" Reed and you have a very lethal defense. Poor things just cannot get any help from their offense. I dont see that changing this year.
KEY ADDITIONS: QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice and S Tom Zbikowski
Division Winner: Browns
Wild Card: Steelers
MVP: Braylon Edwards
Best Rookie: Joe Flacco

1 comment:

Dollar said...

Well done Haines, but I will have to disagree on your Cleveland Browns over the Steelers pick. I like your boldness though.