Who is the big bad in the AFC North that can fight with the Baltimore Ravens?
Let’s take a look at the Baltimore Ravens three divisional foes.
This is the most common pick. Last year, the Steelers almost made it as a wild card team but were beaten out by the Tennessee Titans, who brutally beat the Ravens in the 2019 AFC Divisional round. This year, though, they will have starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, who was injured for the majority of last year. The return of Big Ben should bring back Juju Smith-Schuster to his 2018 breakout season form. That combined with their astonishing defense, led by All-Pro linebacker T.J Watt, the Stealers should give the Ravens a major run for their money next year.
After being a common pick for Super Bowl victory last year, the Cleveland Browns fell way short of expectations. They were 6-10, led by Baker Mayfield’s major regression from his eye-popping rookie season. This offseason though, they addressed their biggest need, the offensive line, by signing Jack Conklin, a 2017 All-Pro selection, away from the Tennessee Titans and drafting the definite best tackle in the draft at #10 overall, Jedrick Wills Jr.
With an upgraded offensive line, Baker Mayfield should improve back to his 2018 form, which in turn should help Odell Beckham Jr, who had a bad 2019 season. 2018 Mayfield, combined with Odell Beckham Jr and Nick Chubb, both of whom are top 10 at their position, and good defense, should enable the Browns to become legitimate wild-card contenders in the AFC next season.
Even though they are currently the worst team in the AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals, who are rebuilding, have a very bright future. Led by 2020 number one overall selection Joe Burrow, who arguably had the best quarterback season in the history of college football.
Burrow, combined with offensive weapons Joe Mixon, and Tee Higgins should help this offense. Mixon rushed for over 1,000 years last year and was named a Pro Bowl alternative. Higgins, who is promising, should have a great rookie year and is a favorite to win the Rookie of the Year Award. Besides that, though, there is not much to love about this Bengals team.
A.J Green isn’t getting younger, and he will most likely leave after this season. Geno Atkins, meanwhile, is 32 but is still one of the best defensive tackles in the game. This team, if it can get good value for aging Green and Atkins, could become a force to be reckoned with in the coming years. They will at maximum be contending for third place in the division next season.
Next season, I strongly predict that the Pittsburgh Steelers will finish second in the AFC North. They will get a wild card spot in the playoffs. The Browns will finish third and the Bengals will be at the bottom of the AFC North.
The Ravens game against the Steelers on Thanksgiving should be one of the best games of the regular season, along with the Ravens week three game against the reigning Super Bowl champions Chiefs. This rivalry, headlined by Lamar Jackson, will only get spicier next season.