Today, marks the beginning of the Celebration of Football Series. This week, I will give 5 predictions about how the NFL Season will turn out. Today, I will be discussing:
Why this is the Year Cincinnati passes up Pittsburgh and Baltimore to win the AFC North.
First, lets look at these teams. Cincinnati has Andy Dalton, who is probably in the top-half of QBs in the league, A.J. Green, one of the premier WR weapons in Football, and a new running game in BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovanni Bernard. They also have on of the top Defensive Linemen in Football in Geno Atkins. Baltimore has Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, a hopefully improved Torrey Smith, and an aging defense. Meanwhile, if Baltimore’s defense is aging, Pittsburgh’s is ancient. The Steelers are also trying a new smashmouth RB for seemingly the 87th time and lost their top WR in Mike Wallace. Cincinnati could without a stretch take 3 of the 4 games they have against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and possibly 4 of 4 with a few breaks.
Next is the schedule. Looking at the Bengals schedule, I think every game besides the Green Bay game is quite winnable. I’m not saying they will go 15-1, but it is hard to see a floor for this squad below 10 wins. Meanwhile 10-6 seems about the mean as opposed to the floor when looking at the Ravens schedule. Looking at the Ravens schedule and roster, I would have to say 7-9 for them would not shock me. While the Steeler’s schedule isn’t as bad as the Ravens, I think 10 wins is about where they should be to after factoring in the 2-4 games Roethlisberger inevitably misses. They could be a Wild Card team.
Looking at the roster and schedule of these teams, the Bengals look to be in very good position for this season. They are also built for the future, which Pittsburgh and Baltimore. If they do well this year, it may be a few seasons before they relinquish the AFC North crown. I believe there is good reason to think the shift to Cincinnati starts this year.