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NFL Pro Football 2015 AFC North Preview

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Fearless Rick's NFL Preview - AFC North

Rick Gagliano | July 17, 2015

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

2014 Record: 10-6

2015 Expected Finish: 11-5

The Good: The Ravens were highly competitive in 2014, ranking #6 in defense (18.9 ppg) and #8 offensively, scoring 25.6 points per outing. Joe Flacco proved an effective, durable leader once again and the running game - despite missing Ray Rice - was powerful.

The Bad: They lost twice to the Bengals during the regular season and a 35-31 loss at New England may have turned out differently had they been at home.

Outlook: Baltimore should return to the top of the heap in the AFC North, one of the most brutal divisions in the league. Even the Browns were halfway good, finishing at 7-9. The Ravens should win the division and maybe get a home game in the playoffs past the first round.

Cincinnati Bengals

2014 Record: 10-5-1

2015 Expected Finish: 10-6

The Good: Andy Dalton has the reins of the team as their starting QB and the Bengals had their best season in years, capturing a wild card. Despite not having eye-popping stats, Cincinnati proved they knew how to win games, a credit to head coach Marvin Lewis, who, over the years, has turned the Bengals from abject losers into winners.

The Bad: Their 26-10 defeat at Indianapolis in the wild card game was a disaster. The Bengals appeared almost to be happy just to be there and there was no fire in the belly, especially offensively.

Outlook: Despite having some of the finest offensive players in receivers A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Jermaine Gresham and running backs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, the Bengals only scored 22.8 points per game in 2014, far below par, considering the level of talent. The defense could be much better, but the linebacking corps is questionable. Second place and a wild card looks to be the optimum level in 2015.

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Pittsburgh Steelers

2014 Record: 11-5

2015 Expected Finish: 8-8

The Good: The Steelers made the playoffs last season, squeaking their way to the division title by winning their final four games of the season, including topping the Bengals twice. QB Ben Roethlisberger had one of his best seasons ever and LeÕVeon Bell proved to be a difference-maker as their lead running back.

The Bad: While the Steeler offense was often explosive (27.3 ppg), the defense was invisible at many times, allowing 23.0 ppg, 18th overall. ItÕs not likely to improve with the departure of Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor.

Outlook: Roethlisberger is as durable as they come, but heÕs taken too many hits over the years and may not make it though the entire 2015 campaign. HeÕs going to have to put up even more points this season than last because the defense is not likely to be any better. No playoffs for Pittsburgh this season.

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Cleveland Browns

2014 Record: 7-9

2015 Expected Finish: 6-10

The Good: They won seven games in 2014, but overall, the team was very inconsistent.

The Bad: Johnny Manziel fell far short of expectations and heÕs a certifiable head case. While heÕll probably be the starter, he may not prove to be a worthy finisher.

Outlook: The Browns havenÕt been to the playoffs in a long time and are a huge disappointment, year in, year out. TheyÕre in a very tough division and they lost their last five straight after a 7-4 start. The week 16, 17-13 loss at Carolina was devastating and the team may still be recovering from that. More angst for Cleveland loyalists as the Browns continue their reign of mediocrity.

Copyright 2015, 2016, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.



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