Now the season is off to a rollicking start, it’s time to finish up on our predictions for the course of the 2013 NFL season. One division that is going to see turnover at the top is the AFC North. It was long thought the Baltimore Ravens wouldn’t be the defense we had come to know with Ray Lewis, but to allow 7 touchdowns to Peyton Mannning?? Uh oh… might take some time for that defense to jell this season if they do at all. So who will win the AFC North and interrupt the hold at the top dominated by Pittsburgh and Baltimore the last 13 years??
2013 AFC North Predictions
1. Cincinnati Bengals 12-4 ##
2. Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7
3. Cleveland Browns 7-9
4. Baltimore Ravens 6-10
The last two years have been a dress rehearsal for the Bengals in the NFL playoffs. This year they will do some serious damage as a division winner. They return the 6th best defense in the NFL before you factor in the addition of James Harrison. They were second in the NFL with 52 sacks, 4th in touchdown passes allowed with 16 and added players to bolster both those numbers. Andy Dalton, in year 3, knows his team and this division and will know his way around the NFL playoffs as well.
The Steelers are in a short rebuilding phase and will have a few growing pains. However when you return with the #1 defense in pro football, you will be in a lot of games. The only issue is they don’t force turnovers like they used to. We also have to see how Mike Wallace’s absence holds back the passing game. With that defense and LeVeon Bell they will sneak close to the playoffs but will have to wait until 2014 to showcase what they can do.
The Browns are a much improved team but still can’t compete at the top of this division. Trent Richardson will dominate this year where last year he showed some flashes. They really looked good in the preseason but we have to see how they respond when real bullets start flying.
As for the Baltimore Ravens….sigh. We attended their funeral last Thursday when Peyton Manning baptized them with 7 touchdown passes. They were just caught in a vice when the offense went flat early in the third quarter. Yet the lack of leadership showed up when they couldn’t stem the tide. A season of growing pains awaits the Super Bowl champs.
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