With the Cleveland Browns the new darlings of the bookmakers and national media this offseason, there have been few “football experts” predicting anything else but a divisional win for the Pittsburgh Steelers rivals in 2019. But it would appear that the prevailing mood is starting to shift in some quarters as of late, with the MMQB the latest publication to side with the Black and Gold in the race for the AFC North crown.
As per Conner Orr, it is the Steelers who will win the division this season thanks to a 10-6 record, with the Browns coming in close behind at 9-7 and the Baltimore Ravens bringing up the rear at 5-11.
“I have them losing the season-opener to New England but rebounding well. This is going to be one of the most fascinating divisions in the NFL, and we could see a titanic offensive shift now that Antonio Brown is in Oakland.”
“My inability to embrace hype is palpable here, and I understand. I have Cleveland splitting all three of their divisional series (an original projection had them sweeping the Steelers, which made sense in a vacuum but feels impossible on a larger scale. Otherwise, my picks went probably as you’d expect, save for a surprise Week 1 loss to the Titans.”
“This is probably my least favorite result. Cincinnati’s initial 10-6 record in my first projection was a reflection of my positivity surrounding this team, with or without Jonah Williams. Still, the Bengals have a wicked first half, starting in Seattle, hosting the 49ers, traveling to Buffalo, traveling to Pittsburgh, hosting the Cardinals, traveling to Baltimore, hosting Jacksonville and traveling to Los Angeles. It was hard have them emerge from that stretch in a place to make a run at the division.”
“As I’ve written before, this new playbook without Lamar Jackson’s knowledge deal makes me uneasy. Their record here isn’t a reflection of some foreseen Jackson regression, but more an offensive regression as a whole. I loved what Baltimore did down the stretch last year and thought there was a way to blend that punishing rush offense with Jackson’s natural playmaking abilities, which we saw in spurts and at the end of their playoff loss to the Chargers.”
But while a 10-6 record is very much in line with the predictions we have made in these pages this offseason, a 5-11 record for the Ravens is far worse than even we would have projected for this hated rival.
The Bengals win total seems about right given their talent level, as does the Browns, although I might be tempted to take a game off Cleveland to have them finishing at 8-8 instead and out of the playoffs.
Lets us know what win totals you think each team in the division will end up with this season in the comments section below.