ORCHARD PARK, NY - AUGUST 25: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers.throws against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on August 25, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
The All Division Preseason Team was chosen based on performance in 2011, projected success in 2012 and extraneous factors, such as potential, opportunity and overall talent. Positions are taken generally, meaning there won't necessarily be one right tackle and one left tackle, but there will be two offensive tackles.
It may create some interesting conversation, but this time last year, there wasn't a question.
Now, there probably still shouldn't be a question. But the gap between Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of the AFC North narrowed a little bit from last year to now.
Or maybe it didn't. It just really depends on which Joe Flacco plays in 2012.
QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Not only did Roethlisberger lead AFC North passers with 867 DYAR, his figure was nearly 300 yards more than Bengals QB Andy Dalton, and more than twice as many as Ravens QB Joe Flacco (no Browns quarterback had a positive DYAR, Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace both performed below the replacement level for the position).
Roethlisberger actually dropped in DYAR compared to his statistically stronger 2010 season, when he had 1,061. Injuries plagued him through the second half of the season, and clearly wasn't the same passer in Week 15 as he was in Week 5. A healthy season has meant Roethlisberger is the strongest quarterback in the division.
QB Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Can Flacco close the gap on Roethlisberger? He also dropped off in DYAR in a season where his passes drew an NFL-high 11 pass interference calls, which gave Baltimore an extra 280 yards of offense (also the highest in the league). Oddly, Flacco's completion percentage (63.1 to 57.6), net yards per play (6.27 to 5.94) and DYAR (668 to 409) were all lower in 2011 than they were in 2009, his second year in the league.
The Ravens appeared to implement the "Heave and Pray" portion of their playbook this past season, and clearly, the extra 280 yards were a good thing. And rest assured, they didn't try for it only 11 times.