2012 AFC North Preview

The NFL season is upon us.

WHOO-HOO!!! This is the time of salvation for men (and some women) everywhere. Simply put, football is good for the soul.

At any rate, I’m going to preview our 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers as well as the rest of the AFC North - the strongest division in the NFL.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6). My Steelers have been smarting on that playoff loss to the Denver Broncos and then QB Tim Tebow last season – and that’s a good thing. Last season Pittsburgh took themselves a bit too seriously and the Ravens lightly and it led to a sweep at the hands of the Ravens. I think Pittsburgh will not take the Ravens lightly, and will remind them who the kings of the AFC North are. It will be a lot tougher this time around, due to injuries on the offensive line, in the running game and linebackers (notably James Harrison). Looking at their schedule they should get 10 wins, but only if they stay healthy and focused. And it also depends on the Big Ben-Todd Haley dynamic. If their relationship goes south, it will be a long season in Pittsburgh. Here’s hoping it won’t be…

Cincinnati Bengals (10-6). The Bengals scare the hell out of me. No one – and I mean NO ONE – expected them to challenge for a playoff spot, let alone make the playoffs. If you don’t believe me, click here and see for yourself. The Bengals return most of their young squad from last season, including QB Andy Dalton and stud WR A.J. Green. I think the addition of the BenJarvis Green-Ellis aka “The Law Firm” will help the running game. With head coach Marvin Lewis at the helm and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer running the show on defense, this young Bengals team will contend again. Wow, a Mike Brown-run team being competitive again – imagine that…

Baltimore Ravens (9-7). The Ravens swept the entire division last season, and its fans will remind you of that in case you forget it. However, a few things will be different for Baltimore this season. For starters, their defense is getting long in the tooth fairly quickly. Ray Lewis, while still a stud, is 37 years old. Ed Reed is 34. Even worse, my man Terrell Suggs aka “T-Sizzle” will miss most of the season with a torn Achilles (I think he’ll miss the entire season). Without a pass-rush, the Ravens D will be just ordinary. Meanwhile, the offense may have to carry the squad this season. QB Joe Flacco is ready to ball, and Ray Rice is such a stud at RB. The Ravens should be contenders again, though their schedule is difficult. The Ravens will not sweep Cincy and Pittsburgh again. Plus with games against the Patriots, Broncos (Peyton Manning owns them) and Giants at home, as well as the Eagles, Texans and Chargers on the road, it’s hard to see Baltimore winning more than nine games against that schedule.

Cleveland Browns (4-12). Poor Cleveland. Browns fans everywhere should be in sackcloth and ashes this season. Though it has a QB in the future in Brandon Weeden, and a may have a stud RB in Trent Richardson if healthy, the Browns lack playmakers on offense. Sure they have Josh Cribs, but he is more effective as a special-teamer than a #1 wide receiver. Cleveland is heading in the right direction (could they get any worse?), but it will be ANOTHER long year in Cleveland. Poor little Brownies…

Read more sports blurbs on "The Klown Times", the sports website for the fans by the fans. You can follow me on Twitter @klownchyld_1906 and/or like "The Klown Times" on Facebook here.

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