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Rival Roundup: Are the Baltimore Ravens the dark horse in the AFC North?

The AFC North has been owned by the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers the past two seasons, but are the Ravens the dark horse in the division?

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

In 2014 the Pittsburgh Steelers wore the crown of AFC North champions, but relinquished their title to the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015. Experts everywhere have been going back and forth between the Bengals and Steelers when asked who will win the division in 2016, but are they leaving out a dark horse team who can compete with both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh?

Per the Baltimore Beatdown (the SB Nation Baltimore Raves site), the Ravens are again underdogs, a situation they have rarely been in the past decade. The author cites the massive amount of injuries, combined with a stellar draft class as reason to be optimistic for Baltimore fans.

Nonetheless, the Ravens will have a tough hill to climb, even if they get back all their players who were placed on injured reserve in 2015. Joe Flacco is coming off a torn ACL, Justin Forsett a broken arm and Steve Smith Sr. a torn achilles tendon. Those injuries will not just take time to heal, but when they do you have to wonder how they might impact their performance, especially Smith's as a wide receiver.

Check out some other news around the AFC North from our SB Nation sites:

Baltimore Ravens (Baltimore Beatdown)

Did you know Ray Lewis re-tore his triceps before his final game in the Super Bowl? Me neither.

ESPN lists their Top 100 players, and zero Ravens make the list.

Cincinnati Bengals (Cincy Jungle)

Cincy Jungle chimes in on Le'Veon Bell's future in the Steel City.

Will Carlos Dunlap break the single season sack record in 2016?

A blueprint for the Bengals repeating as AFC North champs next year.

Cleveland Browns (Dawgs by Nature)

Surprise of the year...the Browns don't know who their starting QB will be.

The Browns revamp their offseason strength and conditioning, will it pay off?

Championship time has arrived in Cleveland, and not it isn't football season.