By Matt Noonan
One of the toughest divisions in football will be on display all season, as Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh will duke it out for the top-spot. Yes, I mentioned the Browns, but don’t worry Steelers and Ravens fans, they’ll most likely be a third place squad. Expect another solid year from the Steelers unless an injury derails the defending AFC champions.
Pittsburgh Steelers [10-6] – Despite their aging defense, the Steelers practically have the same team intact from last season, although sadly they just didn’t have enough in the tank to beat the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. One of the biggest questions this year will be if safety Troy Polamalu gets a new contract, but also, how many fines will linebacker James Harrison register? All in all, the Steelers are a solid pick to win this division, as long as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger remains focused.
Baltimore Ravens [9-7] – This has got to be the year for quarterback Joe Flacco, who enters his fourth season with the Ravens. The young quarterback has performed quite well over the years, but this season he needs to step-up and become a true leader. If Flacco can lead his offense, then expect good things from an all-around solid wild-card team.
Cleveland Browns [7-9] – I’m really excited for the Colt McCoy era to truly begin. The Browns will be somewhat decent this season, however, not the greatest. Of course they’ll struggle, but again, expect another quality season from running back Peyton Hillis too.
Cincinnati Bengals [2-14] – This team has been nothing, but a media circus. Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton will get pulverized this season under center, while rookie wide-out A.J. Green will struggle immensely. Overall, this is not going to be a good season for the “Bungles.”