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2015 NFL Season Preview and Predictions--AFC North Division

Updated on August 29, 2015
Andy Dalton and AJ McCaron running QB drills.
Andy Dalton and AJ McCaron running QB drills.

Bengals

The Bengals are one of the more perplexing teams in the NFL. They can line up and beat anybody. They are that good, at least in the regular season. The goal for the Bengals has been the same for the last few seasons. Win in the playoffs. They have failed miserably. I still think Bengals fans should be ecstatic considering this was one of the worst teams in the league for a very long time. It's natural to be impatient. I consider last year a huge victory for this team. It lost it's offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator and still continued to win. It just proves that Marvin Lewis is doing a great job.

Andy Dalton's numbers went down with Hue Jackson's play calling. This could be do or die for Andy Dalton. He's taking a lot of the blame for the teams playoff failures. He's earned it because he has also been terrible in the post season. He only threw 19 TD's and 17 interceptions. Part of that was due to the injuries of his top playmakers A.J. Green and Marvin Jones. Green still had a solid year but he clearly was hampered by injuries. Jones missed the entire season. They have a solid running game with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard.

The defense dipped as well with the change of coordinator, but played well enough for them to win games. I would be shocked if they didn't improve in year two of Paul Guenther's system. I feel the Bengals will win this division but lose again in the playoffs. This could spell the end of Andy Dalton.

Cincinnati Bengals 11-5

Opponent
Result
Record
@Oakland
W
1-0
San Diego
L
1-1
@Baltimore
W
2-1
Kansas City
W
3-1
Seattle
W
4-1
@Buffalo
W
5-1
Bye
 
5-1
@Pittsburgh
L
5-2
Cleveland
W
6-2
Houston
W
7-2
@Arizona
L
7-3
St. Louis
W
8-3
@Cleveland
L
8-4
Pittsburgh
L
8-5
@San Francisco
W
9-5
@Denver
W
10-5
Baltimore
W
11-5
 
 
 

What's next for the Bengals?

What should happen if the Bengals don't win a playoff game?

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Past and Present.  Dick LeBeau passing the torch to Keith Butler.  Can he handle the pressure?
Past and Present. Dick LeBeau passing the torch to Keith Butler. Can he handle the pressure?

Steelers

Who would have ever thought the Steelers would be an offensive team? They had one of the most impressive schemes in 2014. The Steelers finished with the Number 2 offense in the NFL. I will have to admit, I didn't believe Todd Haley's offense would work in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger played lights out. He passed for nearly 5000 and 32 TDs with only 9 interceptions. He was deadly efficient. Le'Veon Bell was a dual threat back that finished with over 1300 yards rushing and 854 yards receiving. Antonio Brown excelled at being the top WR. He hauled in 129 catches.

The defense was not up to par for this franchise. This team struggled on that side of the ball. The Steelers finished 18th in defense last year. This lead to the "retirement" of Dick LeBeau. The Steelers don't fire coaches, they just strongly suggest that you leave. Keith Butler will take over this unit. He's been with the team for the last 11 years under LeBeau's staff. The Steelers like to promote from within. That's why they have been successful all these years. Head Coach Mike Tomlin and Keith Butler worked together before being on the Steelers staff together. So there is a lot of familiarity there. Tomlin is a defensive minded coach and was a DC before he came to the Steelers. I'm sure he'll have more input this year.

I think this team will make the playoffs as a wild card. I think they are one of those teams that will get hot at the right time and my pick to win the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6

Opponent
Result
Record
@New England
W
1-0
San Francisco
W
2-0
@St. Louis
W
3-0
Baltimore
W
4-0
@San Diego
L
4-1
Arizona
L
4-2
@Kansas City
W
5-2
Cincinnati
W
6-2
Oakland
W
7-2
Cleveland
W
8-2
Bye
 
8-2
@Seattle
L
8-3
Indianapolis
W
9-3
@Cincinnati
W
10-3
Denver
L
10-4
@Baltimore
L
10-5
@Cleveland
L
10-6

Can the Steelers make a run back to glory?

Will the Steelers win the Super Bowl in 2015 season?

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Steve Smith delivered on his promise to make the Panthers pay.
Steve Smith delivered on his promise to make the Panthers pay.

Ravens

The Ravens are a consistent franchise. They are usually in the playoff mix every year. They play in one of the toughest divisions in the league. Three teams from the AFC North made the playoffs in 2014. It will be impossible to duplicate that two years in a row. The Ravens should have spent more time improving their team in the off season than complaining about the Patriots. No matter how many excuses they make they blew that playoff game. They had two 14 point leads and manage to lose both of them quickly. The offense was solid but they lost offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. The Ravens hired Marc Trestman to replace him. That's not an improvement. Trestman couldn't fix Jay Cutler. Joe Flacco doesn't need fixing. He's a solid starting QB. He seemed to excel in Kubiak's offense. The Ravens offense was ranked 12th last year while the Bears finished 21st under Trestman. So don't be shocked if they dip on this side of the ball. The Ravens were able to keep Justin Forsett after a career year. Unfortuantely, I think he benefited from playing in Kubiak's run heavy offense. The Ravens lost their deep threat Torrey Smith. They still have the reliable Steve Smith but he's getting older and their other options aren't that special.

The defense finished 8th in the NFL in 2014. They however could not stop Tom Brady and the Patriots in the playoffs. They made all kinds of excuses for the loss. The offense spotted them two solid leads in the game. Their secondary is the weakest part of this unit. I don't think they did enough to upgrade this unit. They will have to rely heavy on their dominate pass rushing duo Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumerveil. They combined for 29 sacks in 2014 and look to duplicate that success in 2015. They traded NT Haloti Ngata and may miss his presence in the middle of this defense.

I just think with the change on offense and not much upgrading on the defense, The Ravens will be competitive but just miss out on the playoffs this year.

Baltimore Ravens 9-7

Opponent
Result
Record
@Denver
L
0-1
@Oakland
W
1-1
Cincinnati
L
1-2
@Pittsburgh
L
1-3
Cleveland
W
2-3
@San Francisco
W
3-3
@Arizona
L
3-4
San Diego
L
3-5
Bye
 
3-5
Jacksonville
W
4-5
St. Louis
W
5-5
@Cleveland
W
6-5
@Miami
W
7-5
Seattle
L
7-6
Kansas City
W
8-6
Pittsburgh
W
9-6
@Cincinnati
L
9-7

Ravens 2015 season......

How will the Ravens season end?

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The Browns new jerseys may be the most excitement surrounding this team in 2015.
The Browns new jerseys may be the most excitement surrounding this team in 2015.

Browns

What positive thing can you say about the Browns for the 2015 season? They have new jerseys. I did it and it feels good to get that off my chest. Just kidding but after the way their 2014 season imploded, it's hard to see things heading in a positive manner. I thought it was bad to hire Kyle Shanahan last year as offensive coordinator. I was correct and now he's gone. That's a positive. They decided to sign Josh McCown and make him the starting QB. That's a negative. He's a back up QB. Tampa had to find out the hard way last year and the Browns will this year. They need to commit to Johnny Manziel to see if he's the guy. Build the offense around him and see if he can succeed, but coaches are stubborn and the fans of Cleveland will have to suffer. The offense wasn't great in 2014. New OC John DeFilippo is an upgrade mainly because he's not Kyle Shanahan. He will have a lot of work trying to score with an offense that is lacking talent in the skilled positions. Receiver Josh Gordon won't be around due to suspension. The offensive line is the bright spot of this offense. They are one of the better lines in the league.

The Browns defense was equally as bad as their offense last season. They finished 23rd on both sides of the ball in 2014. I just don't see the Browns keeping up in this division. The competition is too tough and all of the teams in the North are clearly better than the Browns.


Cleveland Browns 5-11

Opponent
Result
Record
@New York Jets
W
1-0
Tennessee
W
2-0
Oakland
W
3-0
@San Diego
L
3-1
@Baltimore
L
3-2
Denver
L
3-3
@St. Louis
L
3-4
Arizona
L
3-5
@Cincinnati
L
3-6
@Pittsburgh
L
3-7
Bye
 
3-7
Baltimore
L
3-8
Cincinnati
W
4-8
San Francisco
L
4-9
@Seattle
L
4-10
@Kansas City
L
4-11
Pittsburgh
W
5-11

How does the Browns 2015 season end?

The Browns have the best chance of

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Randal Bruce vs ESPN Experts

AFC North
My Predictions
ESPN's Predictions
Cincinnati Bengals
11-5
10-6
Pittsburgh Steelers
10-6
9-7
Baltimore Ravens
9-7
9-7
Cleveland Browns
5-11
4-12
It looks like ESPN and I have the same thoughts on this division.

Pick your winner

Who do you think will win the AFC North?

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Voice of Truth

Which predictions do you agree with?

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