Who will win the AFC North?

Welcome to the 7th installment of "The Nostradamus Effect" as we will pay a visit to the AFC North and see what they have to offer this year. This division as you know is home to the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburg Steelers. Hit the jump to see the predictions.

We start in Baltimore with the Ravens and disappointing end of a solid performance for them. The question has never been if this team had a talented enough defense, the offense has always been suspect and remains so. But wait you say they have RB Ray Rice, well he is a good key to a complex puzzle that doesn’t seem to have the exact pieces. QB Joe Flacco, which means Skinny in Spanish, seems to be adequate enough to get them to win. So what’s the issue on offense? Well their offensive line took a hit when they really couldn’t afford it with losing G Ben Grubbs and RB Ray Rice is still not happy with the way his contract is going. This defense is aging but the Ravens do well in drafting key talent to fill positions they need but is that enough? They had a great offseason in terms of Draft and FA, although I think losing Grubbs will haunt them.

My prediction is that the aging anchors to the defense will make everyone work their tails off this season as this may be their last chance to win another SB. They finish this division just shy of the title by going 9-7. But they get a wild card. They go deep again but their lack of offensive cohesion costs them a chance to go to the AFC championship game.

We head over to the Cleveland Browns to see what they have to offer the NFL in terms of competition. Now many will say, especially Bucs fans that wanted RB Trent Richardson that they have the “keys to the kingdom” now and will be competitive. Well some would argue that the Browns haven’t really been competitive since 1980’s and with good reason. This team has never won the SB, championship pre merger yes, and that this ownership has such a loyal following that all they have to do is “just enough to compete but not enough to win”. Some fans would agree, I’m not sure about that but they are trying this year. This team seems to never click together and often has good talent but can’t get it to produce, why is that? Is it a culture thing? Is it a curse? Who knows? I do know this, their QB situation is a big question mark, the only offensive position of promise is RB, but can TR carry all the weight? Or will atlas collapse under the pressure?

My prediction this team has some talent and CAN win, but they don’t yet again. They finish 6-10. RB Trent Richardson does make an impact but their “musical chairs at QB” this year puts a kibosh on their progress offensively.

We head across state lines to visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers, or as their fans call them the “Stillers”, to see where they stand this coming year. This team has a defense that really woke up towards the end of the year but there were a lot of accusations towards them, many claiming they were an gaining defense and could not maintain throughout the year. They woke up and managed to put up good defensive numbers and in total defense yards they finished first according to here their offense seemed to struggle at times due to QB Ben Roethlisberger’s health. The team realized a key weakness and drafted some much needed O-line help to protect their QB, they also have a looming issue with WR Mike Wallace in that they applied the franchise but he wants his well deserved payday, but will they give it to him? I’m curious to see what will become of RB Chris Rainey this year that could be the addition they need to take some of the workload off of RB Mendenhall.

My prediction this team doesn’t make the playoffs this year and finish 7-9. They start a rebuilding year next year to get back on track.

We go back to Ohio to review the Cincinnati Bengals, a team just a few months removed from a pretty good playoff run with a rookie QB and star WR. This team has managed to keep their team intact and made some moves to improve overall, they got some top tier help to solidify their already good defense with CB Dre Kirkpatrick, and they also drafted WR Mohamed Sanu which is a good compliment to WR AJ Green. They got RB Benjarvis Green-Ellis, which sounds like a law firm more than it does a name. They seemed to put together the type of players that really fit their system. I think this team is legit and despite their stigma of being a place of misfits, their fit is going to shine this year.

My prediction this team really steps it up and runs the division going 12-4, they almost sweep missing only an away game at Baltimore. No major changes here as really nothing is needed. They go deep in the playoffs.

That’s all for now, let’s see what you think.

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