The AFC North Steelers Will Have Some Tough Competition this Season
Our 2017 AFC North Preview sees the Pittsburgh Steelers as being the team that has the best chance of making it to the Super Bowl. Still, if the Indianapolis Colts utilize their passing game to the max, they will certainly be in the playoff hunt. The Cincinnati Bengals are a young team with a lot of potential. They could be a dark horse team this season. The Cleveland Brown have some major issues especially at quarterback. Can they even begin to solve their signal caller problem in 2017?
The Baltimore Ravens (8-8) look to a healthy Joe Flacco to lead them into the postseason. In 2012 he did just that, taking them all the way to a Super Bowl victory. But it’s been a bit sparse since then. If the Ravens can mount a decent rush attack and Flacco can cut down on his picks, this team can have a very productive offense. Baltimore features one of the best defenses in the NFL. Their secondary is exceptionally effective at stopping drives and picking off passes. Plus, the special teams are extraordinary. These guys have a real chance of being in the playoff mix at the end of the season.
The Cincinnati Bengals (6-10) are a good team with a fine quarterback, Andy Dalton, leading them. Dalton is very consistent and accurate. He suffers from being protected by an ineffective offensive line that gave up 44 sacks last season. This is also a very young and inexperienced team, although they do have a lot of talent. Cincinnati made WR John Ross (Washington) their top pick and the ninth pick overall of the 2017 NFL Draft. Ross was the fastest rookie wideout in the draft. He will have an immediate impact. They also chose the fastest RB, going with Joe Mixon (Oklahoma) as their second pick. The defense was tough last season, allowing just 19.7 PPG. But there are some holes including in the LB unit, which has a big hole with the departure of free-agent Karlos Danby.
The Cleveland Browns (3-13) now have Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler as their QBs with rookie DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame) waiting in the wings. Put your money on Osweiler getting the starting spot. The team’s most productive receiver, Terelle Pryor, went the free agent route. RB Isaiah Crowell enters his fifth season having shown promise last year as he rushed for 952 yards while averaging 4.8 YPC and scoring seven touchdowns. The O-line has been upgraded. The Browns signed free agents Kevin Zeitler (G) of the Bengals and J.C. Tretter (C/G) of the Packers. They’re both fine players. The defense, which was one of the worst in the NFL, still has some major question marks, but it should be better than it was last year.
There are three names you need to know then it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) offense- QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, and WR Antonio Brown. That combination often offers extraordinary results. There’s depth on the offense too and the O-line is one of the best in the league. It includes multiple-time Pro Bowlers center Maurkice Pouncey and guard David DeCastro. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert is also a top performer. Although the Pittsburgh defense is not as stingy as it used to be, it is still pretty good. The frontline is tough and commanding and the linebacking unit, despite having lost some top performers, it still accomplished. The secondary has some good players but little depth.
2017 AFC North Preview: Final Word
Below you’ll find out 2017 AFC North Preview projections for where each team will finish. If you’d like to read more in-depth analysis on each team, please follow the team links below.