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The AFC North division has everything you want for an NFL season: fierce rivalries, great defenses and offenses that provide dynamic results. This division could very hold the AFC representative in the Superbowl or these teams could bludgeon each other all season.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if both of those things happened? With fresh faces and new coaching staffs, anything seems possible with this group of teams.
Record in 2019: 10-6
Key Player: Running Back- Mark Ingram
Player to Watch: Safety- Earl Thomas
Baltimore comes into the season with Lamar Jackson firmly planted as their starter. The offense can move forward with their run heavy style, while Jackson makes improvements passing inside the pocket. Newly acquired Mark Ingram should provide the steady hand at the running back position.
The Ravens will be looking for a number one receiving threat. Whether it be the plethora of tight ends they drafted last year or rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown, they need to find something.
The defense will have some new faces as starters. Safety Earl Thomas is a big free agent addition the Ravens needed. His veteran leadership and skill will help a team that has lost a couple of pro-bowlers on that side.
Baltimore is desperately looking for some natural pass rushers. Upfront they will be stout and the scheme itself should provide sacks, but they have no one that scares you off the edge (not yet anyway). Prediction: 9-7
Record in 2019: 6-10
Key Player: Linebacker- Preston Brown
Player to Watch: Wide Receiver-Tyler Boyd
New head coach Zac Taylor inherits a team of veterans and will look to imprint his style on them. Long time quarterback Andy Dalton returns for his ninth season at the helm. His favorite target A.J. Green will miss the start of the regular season due to an ankle injury.
Look for Tyler Boyd and rookie free agent Damion Willis to get the majority of passes. The rushing attack is solid with Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard.
Shawn Williams and Jessie Bates led the team in tackles last season. The problem is that was their two starting safeties. Preston Brown was brought in to help solidify the front seven and provide some much needed tackling.
Defensive end Carlos Dunlap and defensive tackle Geno Atkins can still get after the quarterback. They will need to have big seasons if Cincinnati wants to improve on defense. Prediction: 5-11
Record in 2019: 7-8-1
Key Player: Defensive End- Myles Garrett
Player to Watch: Running Back- Kareem Hunt
The Browns went from winning zero games to falling just short of the playoffs last season. In year two Baker Mayfield has big gun wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as a big time target. Jarvis Landry and David Njoku should get huge cushions underneath to work with and make receptions.
Running back Nick Chubb was a great for them last season and they will get added firepower with Kareem Hunt in week nine.
The defense should be much improved. Myles Garrett has to be the blue chip player he showed he was last year but new acquisition Oliver Vernon can change the way the Browns defensive line is played. Teams won’t be able to place running backs to just help on Garrett if Vernon can play up to his potential including Sheldon Richardson and the entire defensive line. .
The linebackers are solid in the middle and Denzel Ward is a stud in the secondary. Prediction: 10-6
Record in 2019: 9-6-1
Key Player: Wide Receiver- Juju Smith-Shuster
Player to Watch: Linebacker- Devin Bush
The Steelers are now past all the turmoil of the 2018 season. Ben Roethlisberger is ready to do battle with new number one target Juju Smith-Shuster. Newcomer Donte Moncrief and tight end Vance Mcdonald will provide plenty of other options in the passing game. James Conner has proven to be a productive running back, able to provide catches out the backfield.
Rookie linebacker Devin Bush joins T.J. Watt and the rest of a dangerous front seven. The Steelers will have to improve in secondary play after giving up a bunch of touchdowns through the air last season. Prediction: 10-6