Finally the 2018 NFL season is right around the corner, and personally I cannot wait for the start of the regular season. It has been far too long since the Eagles won the Super Bowl and there are few better feelings than your NFL team still having a shot at the big game. Hope is wonderful, but lets take a look at some realistic predictions for the upcoming regular season starting with the AFC North.
Winner of Division
There should be no surprise here. The Steelers have the most talented roster in the division (and possibly the NFL on the offensive side of the ball), and there is little competition for them when it comes to the division title. Pittsburgh has added some great pieces on the defensive side of the ball to go along with one of the most prolific offenses talent-wise, in the past 30 years. I would not be terribly concerned about the Bell holdout. He is too talented and runs in a style where he does not take the bit hit to be concerned about him missing some preseason games. As long as Ben Roethlisberger, LeVeon Bell, and Antonio Brown stay healthy (and happy), Pittsburgh should walk through this division with ease, and possibly compete for a Super Bowl this year.
This pick is more by default than anything else. The Bengals have done little to prove they are a legitimate contender for any kind of championship, but they are in a division that contain two teams that are substantially worse than they are. Until they solve the conundrum that is Andy Dalton at quarterback, this team will not be making any strides when it comes to playoff success. Marvin Lewis needs to be relieved of his duty and they need a major overhaul in order to improve their roster for the future.
Cleveland might have had the second best off-season of any team in the NFL. Acquiring guys like Jarvis Landry, Tyrod Taylor, Greg Robinson, and Carlos Hyde will certainly put a jolt of energy and optimism into a roster. I still believe Baker Mayfield was the wrong quarterback to take number 1 overall, but this roster can make some moves for a franchise that won one game over the last two seasons. The Browns are improving leaps and bounds, but it will take a year or two for them to fully put it together.
I never thought I would see the day where I would have the Ravens as finishing last in the division. I am still in shock that I am doing it, but take a look at the lack of accomplishments since they won the Super Bowl in 2013. They paid Joe Flacco and he has supplied them a whole bunch of nothing and the entire franchise has been on a steady decline ever since. Don’t be surprised to see Lamar Jackson starting at some point this season. There were very few notable roster acquisitions this offseason and it feels more and more like Ozzie Newsome’s last season in charge of the Ravens will not be pretty. This season will hopefully be the wake up call this proud franchise needs.