Sports

Leach’s Lists: 2013 NFL Team Preview Capsules-AFC North

View Comments
ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 24: Cobi Hamilton #87 of the Cincinnati Bengals during a preseason game at AT&T Stadium on August 24, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, TX – AUGUST 24: Cobi Hamilton #87 of the Cincinnati Bengals during a preseason game at AT&T Stadium on August 24, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

leach1 Dan Leach
Born and raised in one of the nation's most important cities, Detr...
Read More

Sports Fan Insider

Keep up with your favorite teams and athletes with daily updates.
Sign Up

By: Dan Leach

Follow Dan on Twitter @dtmleach

As football fans can literally taste opening weekend of the NFL, I am going to run through all 32 teams and eight divisions to get you even more ramped up. I will take a look at who I think is going to win each division, who the surprises will be, and the best futures values for 2013. Let’s continue with the AFC North.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (2012 8-8 THIRD PLACE AFC NORTH-MISSED PLAYOFFS)

The Steelers come off a very disappointing season by their standards and will be fired up from the get-go to get on the right track early in 2013.This is a franchise that has rarely had two bad years in a row over the past decade plus. The Steelers had the type of team that was capable of making a run last year, but with their injury issues and inconsistent play, they were just good enough to finish third in the AFC North. They come into this season with a better offensive line, one of the top defenses in the NFL, and a QB that can win you games, on his own, late.

The schedule sets up nicely for Pittsburgh as they have most of their toughest games in the Steel City and, aside from the Pats on the road, don’t have a schedule that looks that daunting outside the AFC North. Mike Tomlin has proved year in and year out that he is one of the best coaches in the NFL and always gets the best out of his team. The one glaring hole is at RB, an issue they had to deal with all last year, but if second round draft pick Le’Veon Bell can come back healthy, that could shore up very quickly.

(Futures value scale 1-10)

-ODDS TO WIN AFC NORTH 8/5       7.4

-ODDS TO WIN AFC +800          6.5

-ODDS TO WIN SUPER BOWL +2000     5

-OVER/UNDER WIN TOTAL     9.0    OVER

DTM  BOTTOM LINE-.  The Steelers are the favorite to win the AFC North and should be with the talent and depth they have on both sides of the ball. PREDICTION 10-6 AFC North Winners

BALTIMORE RAVENS (2012 10-6-WON AFC NORTH-  SUPER BOWL CHAMPS)

The Ravens will definitely be in the mix for the division, and with the maturity of Joe Flacco and the coaching prowess of Johnny Harbaugh, I like their chances, even with the dreaded Super Bowl hangover jinx. I would put the Ravens right in the middle as far as their chances to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, and as I firmly expect the AFC to be the tougher conference this season, it will definitely not be easy.

It is so tough these days, not only to repeat as champs, but also to even make the playoffs the season following a Super Bowl win. The Ravens have the talent on both sides of the ball to make a run like they did last year, but the magical slipper might just have finally fallen off in Crab Cake Town.

(Futures value scale 1-10)

-ODDS TO WIN AFC NORTH +250    7.4

-ODDS TO WIN AFC +1100     5

-ODDS TO WIN SUPER BOWL +2500   3.5

-OVER/UNDER WIN TOTAL     8.5

DTM  BOTTOM LINE-Ravens lost a lot on D but signing Elvis Dumervil was huge. They have the talent and balance on offense now to get back into the playoffs and beyond. The schedule sets up nicely for them as well, especially for a team coming off a SB win.  Take the over 8.5

PREDICTION 9-7

CINCINNATI BENGALS (2012 10-6 SECOND PLACE AFC NORTH- LOST IN AFC DIVISIONAL)

The Bengals got back into the post-season party last year and have the type of team that is talented enough to make a move this season. That being said, I just feel like they have just enough deficiencies on both sides of the ball to prevent them from making a serious run at the Super Bowl. They are going to be a lot of fun to watch and have one of the best WR in the game in AJ Green and a QB that always keeps you in the game with Andy “Red Herring” Dalton. I also think rookie TE Tyler Eifert could become a major weapon.

The running game could be an issue as the “Lawfirm” (Benjarvus Green-Ellis) is talented, but isn’t the type of back that can win you a Super Bowl and the depth there is an issue. The D has talent, but has holes at LB, save James Harrison on the strong side. Also, DE could end up being a liability, as the Cats will be able to score points, but will likely be giving up too many as well.

(Futures value scale 1-10)

-ODDS TO WIN AFC NORTH +200     6.5

-ODDS TO WIN AFC +1100         5

-ODDS TO WIN SUPER BOWL +2500     4.6

-OVER/UNDER WIN TOTAL     8.5   OVER

DTM  BOTTOM LINE- The Bengals have a great chance to be a playoff team again this season, but I do not see them with much of a shot at getting past the Divisional. PREDICTION 9-7

CLEVELAND BROWNS (2012 5-11 4TH PLACE AFC NORTH-MISSED PLAYOFFS)

Sorry Browns fans; this once again is not going to be the year. The Browns are an enigma in many ways, as they seem to be right on the edge of success, but find some way to knock themselves back down. This year it was the draft, as aside from Barkevious Mingo in the first round, most of their draftees might not even make the team. I think there is an upside to QB Brandon Weeden, but when you have an offense devoid of major skill players, there is only so much you can do.

The Browns will once again have a defense that can keep them in games, and they boast one of the most underrated secondary’s in the league. The bottom line though is that Cleveland simply lacks the overall talent, in any of the three phases, to be taken seriously as a contender. This will be another “growing pains” year for Cleveland that will see the occasional upset, but not much more.

(Futures value scale 1-10)

-ODDS TO WIN AFC NORTH +800    3.5

-ODDS TO WIN AFC +2500     2

-ODDS TO WIN SUPER BOWL +6000   1.5

-OVER/UNDER WIN TOTAL     6 UNDER

DTM BOTTOM LINE- The Browns will be like all other teams on day one, feeling like they can make a move this year, but that is where it will stop, as they will be AFC North bottom dwellers yet again.  PREDICTION 5-11

View Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,974 other followers