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Thread: A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

      
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    Default A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

    We're getting close to the start of all of the NFL hoopla. Camps are going to start open and for the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fans, Training Camp couldn't come sooner with this nightmare of an Offseason.

    So, with every beginning to a Season, you start getting all of the Predictions pouring in. Anyone that subscribes to a Fantasy Football Magazine and newsletters have already started looking at all of the changes with the teams and are mapping out their choices for Fantasy Drafts.

    Now, it is Time to look at the revamped and very unpredictable

    AFC North Division

    Name:  11lsink.gif
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Size:  7.5 KBUsually regarded as the armpit of the AFC North, the Browns have been anything but "competitive" since rejoining the NFL. Their Head Coaches have been lousy, their GM have been lousy, they can't draft Quarterbacks to save their lives. Every team in the AFC North have looked forward to facing the Browns twice a year to inflate and pad their stats. That could be coming to an end.

    While I'm not the biggest Jake Delhomme fan, I acknowledge that he's perhaps the best QB the Cleveland Browns have had since rejoining the NFL. That doesn't say much for the Browns QB drafting skills but even having an Average QB could've netted the Browns a few more wins per season on Average.

    What makes Jake Delhomme important is that the Browns have legit Offensive weapons that needed a legit QB. Josh Cribbs is scary good any time he touches the field, Jerome Harrison showed that he can be a very good RB and Mohamed Massaquoi had over 600 yards receiving and a huge 18.3 YPC with the ****ty QB's the Browns fielded last year! With a strong Offensive Line, the Browns can play an effective ball control game and keep their questionable Defense off the field now that they have a QB that can complete passes.

    Unfortunately for the Browns their Defense isn't anywhere near their peers in the Division. Sure, they should likely improve statistically with an improved Offense but they were still 31st Overall, 29th Overall against the Pass and 28th Overall against the Run. Any improvement is taking this defense from Awful to Bad.

    Name:  x5qoth.gif
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Size:  7.7 KBIt's easy for any Steelers fan to hate the Ravens. They're a copy-cat team. They've been constructing their teams off of the model of success the Steelers engineer since Art Modell stole the franchise from Cleveland. They have been a Defense first, ground control team for a Decade but like the Steelers in the Roethlisberger era they are now trying to get a little more "air" out of their team.

    Enter Anquan Boldin. A very very good WR who just happened to not be as good as Larry Fitzgerald On the Ravens Anquan Boldin becomes the man and gives them a legit deep ball threat amongst some good possession type WR's like Derrick Mason and let's not forget them also snagging Donte Stallworth who is an improvement.

    The Question for the Ravens offense is whether Joe Flacco is good enough to utilize these weapons. For a young QB like Flacco you would think that this needs to be the year this becomes his team. Are his shoulders big enough? Is new QB coach Jim Zorn what Flacco needs to be pushed over the top?

    Baltimore is always tough to predict. They have a roster than can be good every season and have always had the potential once they reached the playoffs outside of a reliable QB. For a change it's Baltimore's Defense that is questionable. Ed Reed is slated to start the season on the PUP, they replaced Rolle with 35 year old Walt Harris who came out of retirement to play, Ray "stab" Lewis isn't getting any younger. A new Linebackers coach. Last year the strong run game and ball possession masked the Ravens defense and made them look statistically better than they were. If they throw more this year, the Defense could get exposed more.

    Name:  k1t8c7.gif
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Size:  8.6 KBLet's be honest here, unless they are lighting up crack pipes or are just hopeless dreamers, Cincinnati Bengals fans don't even know what to expect from their team this year. Were the 2009 Bengals simply a team that caught others off-guard due to ignorance of usually only needing to give about 50% effort to play and beat the Bengals? Is this team really legit?

    I'm inclined to say that the Bengals look to be legit but because they changed philosophies. That was the one and main thing that caught teams off guard last year. Everyone was used to the Bengals shooting themselves in the foot but they toughened up their Defense under Jeff Fitzgerald who was a good D-Coordinator before going to Cincinnati. The main thing with the Bengals and their change in philosophies is that they stopped trying to be this Air Coryell offense when they have no Quarterback that could lead an Offense like that and instead became the Baltimore Ravens and went copy-cat. Now they are a ball controlling, run oriented football team that asks Carson Palmer to manage the field and not put the team on his shoulders. Strong Defense, ball control run game on offense. It's hard to shoot yourself in the foot repeatedly with that sort of balance.

    We'll all find out what the Bengals are this year. Was that chip on Cedric Benson's shoulder a one year thing? On paper the Bengals look like a solid team but now they won't have the benefit of catching teams off guard.

    Name:  23j6bsp.gif
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Size:  7.2 KBIt's been one of those offseasons for the Steelers thanks to Ben Roethlisberger and ex-Steeler Santonio Holmes. All Steelers fans will be happy to see camp start.

    So how about them Stillers? How do they stack up? Let's say this now and get it out of the way... If Troy Polamalu is not healthy for most of this season, the Steelers are in serious trouble. Even as the Steelers upgraded their CB position ousting William Gay and bringing back Bryant McFadden, the defense as a whole tended to crumble late in games when teams would ditch the run and go full throttle into their passing game. Guys like Ryan Clark got a little more exposed as well and an aging James Farrior can't be relied on to cover the middle like used to on 3rd downs.

    The story for the Steelers this season shouldn't be Roethlisberger or Byron Leftwich or even the Offensive line (for a change) it is really going to be on the defense. The Offense proved last season it can move the ball. Ben Roethlisberger doesn't throw for 4,000 yards if they can't move the ball. Rashard Mendenhall doesn't run for 1,000 yards. Bruce Arians is unfortunately still calling the plays so Red Zone efficiency should make all fans go . But it's the Defense. A defense that couldn't shutdown Kansas City or Oakland or Cleveland last season. Special Teams are part of that equation of Defense too. the Steelers defense like Baltimore's is getting older and it became evident last season how much is designed around a Troy Polamalu or how they miss the leadership of an Aaron Smith.

    If the Steelers defense can be more like the 2008 Defense then the Steelers are as dangerous as anyone in the league especially once Ben Roethlisberger comes back from suspension but as we know... freak injuries can change a team and season in a hurry. The coaches failed to make enough adjustments last season so I wouldn't expect them this season if major injuries show up.

    -------------------------

    In all it's tough to make a prediction about the AFC North. I'm sure every fan of their team believes their team is the one that will win the Division and outside of Cleveland whose defense isn't on par with the rest of the division, I think that those claims would be justifiable. One thing is for certain, it doesn't look like there is going to be a team that you can just walk in and walk all over this season in the AFC North. With tighter competition thanks to the Bengals getting better and the Browns at least looking competent on one side of the ball, you might not get an 11 game winner from the AFC North.

    We shall see
    Last edited by Kipper; Oct-09-2012 at 09:17 AM.
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    Default Re: A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

    I know that I sound like a broken record, but watch out for the Bengals... If Benson is not suspended, they will have a solid balanced offense... Andre Smith will be healthy and able to anchor the protection for Palmer... Their defense is getting more solid each season, and even though he is trouble with a capital "T", Pacman Jones will improve it further.

    ... Maybe it's just because I hear about them incessantly over here, but as much as I hate them, I am also starting to respect this "newer" version of the Bungles as a worthy opponent.
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    Default Re: A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by NKySteeler View Post
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    I know that I sound like a broken record, but watch out for the Bengals... If Benson is not suspended, they will have a solid balanced offense... Andre Smith will be healthy and able to anchor the protection for Palmer... Their defense is getting more solid each season, and even though he is trouble with a capital "T", Pacman Jones will improve it further.

    ... Maybe it's just because I hear about them incessantly over here, but as much as I hate them, I am also starting to respect this "newer" version of the Bungles as a worthy opponent.
    You living there and hearing the hype machine likely makes you think more highly of them. Make no mistake I think the best thing that they could've done was work on the Defense instead of putting all of that time and money into a Passing game. They changed the way that team plays.... but like I said at the end of their review, nobody is going to take them lightly this year. There won't be the 50% effort to play and beat them that they are used to. Now that they proved they can make the playoffs they're going to have face the opponents best efforts now...

    So I'll be curious to see how they when teams take them seriously
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    Default Re: A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    but like I said at the end of their review, nobody is going to take them lightly this year. There won't be the 50% effort to play and beat them that they are used to. Now that they proved they can make the playoffs they're going to have face the opponents best efforts now...
    Very true, but I really do think that their team has actually improved from last year... But as you said, it will be curious to see.

    ... I also think that Baltimore has taken a step up as well. Now that Flacco has a legit target to throw to, it could be just as interesting.

    So IMO, with these items in mind, it will be a much tougher road for the Steelers, I think... For me, the big question will be how successful we are during Ben's suspension, and how rusty he might be upon return... With the competition we will face within the division we can't afford to lose a single step, otherwise we might end-up 3rd amongst the 4 teams.
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    Default Re: A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

    The Bungles and Steelers will return to their rightful places this year.This kinda thing happens every so often.The football world will find its center and all will be good.

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    Default Re: A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

    It will be all about defense for us. With Ben missing at least four games he and the offense will also need time to mesh together through mid season compared to other teams already shaking off their growing pains. I'm more worried about our D more than anything because the writer is correct, too much is obviously held together by Troy and many of the other guys are in the gray haired years of their careers.

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    Default Re: A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

    I just have a hard time thinking the bungles finally got it figured out. I just don't buy it.

    The stains will suck but there is a sort of silver lining to their beating us last year and arguably knocking us out of the playoffs. Maybe that's the first step to renewing the two-sided rivalry, and I do miss that rivalry.

    I see (keep those rotten tomatoes to yourself) the rats winning the division and our goal at this point with Ben being out and some question marks still in our secondary and both lines is making a wildcard berth which I expect that the Steelers, at the very least can and will do.

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    Default Re: A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

    Hype Machine? Try being a Browns fan in Pittsburgh.


    (Or being a Browns fan at all...)

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    Default Re: A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by fezziwig View Post
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    It will be all about defense for us. With Ben missing at least four games he and the offense will also need time to mesh together through mid season compared to other teams already shaking off their growing pains. I'm more worried about our D more than anything because the writer is correct, too much is obviously held together by Troy and many of the other guys are in the gray haired years of their careers.
    this is so true D is where it is-

    BTW palmer is gonna be the bengals down fall this year!

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    I think the Bengals have improved on paper but that's about it. They have never done the team thing very well and this could be their Downfall. When things are going good they can string together some wins but a little adversity and **** the bed. They have kinda set themselves up for the adversity. I also don't think Palmer is the same guy he once was. He is expected to return to form every year but hasn't in quite some time. I am not scared of them. Team to beat by default but beat they will get IMO

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    Default Re: A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

    bengals line was not blocking good last night. How long will a fragile Palmer last?O'Sullivan and mini-me as backups!!If their running backs get hurt,who de think they're going to beat?

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    Default Re: A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by rockcr View Post
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    this is so true D is where it is-

    BTW palmer is gonna be the bengals down fall this year!
    Yup... if they start throwing the ball more than they should or more than last season then I agree. I mentioned in this article and still say that one of the Bengals strengths last year was running the ball more and eliminating the chances to hurt themselves. Like the Baltimore Ravens, the Bungholes became Steelers immitators. They became a ball possession, defensive oritented team. Now after Ben throws for 4,000 yards and such both the ravens and Bengals decided to keep copying us and boosted their passing games by getting some good WR's. Problem with this is that Carson Palmer and Joe Flacco aren't dependable, reliable and as good as Ben
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    Default Re: A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by VtSteeler View Post
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    bengals line was not blocking good last night. How long will a fragile Palmer last?O'Sullivan and mini-me as backups!!If their running backs get hurt,who de think they're going to beat?
    Not many.

    I'd actually be surprised to see the approach teams take to the Bungholes this year. Do they focus on stopping the run and force Palmer and his line to beat you?

    I also want to see how good that team is when teams take the completely serious. I still don't think any team took them seriously last season. Hell, I think when we faced them a second time, we considered that first loss a fluike
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kipper View Post
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    Not many.

    I'd actually be surprised to see the approach teams take to the Bungholes this year. Do they focus on stopping the run and force Palmer and his line to beat you?

    I also want to see how good that team is when teams take the completely serious. I still don't think any team took them seriously last season. Hell, I think when we faced them a second time, we considered that first loss a fluike
    I can't recall the second meeting at the moment but they were both close. The first one I remember being so upset because we owned them for 3 quarters. More than that tho I saw a quite a few games and I don't think they dominated anyone. They won a lot of close ones. A win is a win they just aren't too scary IMO

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    Default Re: A Look At The AFC North And Steelers

    Quote Originally Posted by Beezy View Post
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    I can't recall the second meeting at the moment but they were both close. The first one I remember being so upset because we owned them for 3 quarters. More than that tho I saw a quite a few games and I don't think they dominated anyone. They won a lot of close ones. A win is a win they just aren't too scary IMO
    Both meetings we had issues scoring and in one of them we blew 4th quarter lead to a QB that chokes in those situations 4 out of 5 times. Normally their defense is horrid and they hadn't had a legt run game in years..

    They aren't built to dominate teams though. think of the Korkie era lead Cowher teams. Teams built on ball possession running and defense. We didn't really dominate teams either but like you said a win is a win.

    I think that for a change last season the Bengals weren't shooting themselves in the foot while [playi9ng a very conservative style of football. Caught teams by surprise. Teams that were used to the Bungholes collapsing or playing undisciplined etc... good chance the bungholes could return to their comedic ways this year when teams take them very serious
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