2014 AFC North Picks, Preview and Predictions
2014 AFC North Division Winner:
Baltimore Ravens (+243 at Justbet Sportsbook)
2014 AFC North Division Winner:
The Ravens couldn’t overcome the loss of their heart and soul in Ray Lewis when he retired before the 2013-2014 season. The loss of Anquan Boldin and injuries to both of their tight ends made for a long campaign last year. They get Dennis Pitta back and signed Owen Daniels along with long time Panther Steve Smith, giving Joe Flacco a nice set of weapons to go along Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. They will lean heavily on the run, and even though Ray Rice will serve a 2 game suspension, they are expecting him to be motivated and look more like the 2012 Ray Rice than the last season’s version. On defense they have a good mix of youth and veterans led by Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. They drafted C.J. Mosely to fill the legendary hole at middle linebacker. If Joe Flacco can earn his inflated paycheck this season the Ravens will be the class of this division. The Browns will be without star receiver Josh Gordon, which leaves them extremely depleted at receiver. New head coach Mike Pettine is a defensive coach and should love all of the playmakers they have on that side of the ball with rookie corner Justin Gilbert playing with Joe Haden and Donte Whitner, giving them one of the best secondaries in the NFL. If Ben Tate can be an every down running back the Browns might get out of the cellar in the AFC North for the first time in years. Pittsburgh is a team that has gone from a bunch of really good veteran players to a bunch of really old veteran players in just a few years. Their receiving core is completely revamped with Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey teaming up with Antonio Bryant to give Big Ben a below average receiving core. Le’Veon Bell will need to play well after his suspension for this team to have any chance to compete in this division and that leaves us with the Cincinnati Bengals. Andy Dalton is the biggest reason this team will never make the jump to elite status in the NFL. He hasn’t played well in big games and throws too many untimely interceptions despite his new contract. They will get Geno Atkins back from a torn ACL to shore up their front seven. It’s well known that offense wins games but defense wins championships but Cincinnati is proof that that isn’t always true. There is a lot of pressure in Cincinnati this season for coach Marvin Lewis and QB Andy Dalton because if the Bengals underachieve again this season, and there’s no reason to think they won’t, there could be some wholesale changes coming for the Bengals.
2014 AFC North Final Standings Prediction
Baltimore Ravens 11-5 (Odds to Win AFC North +243 at Justbet Sportsbook)
Cincinnati Bengals 10-6 (Odds to Win AFC North +161 at Justbet Sportsbook)
Cleveland Browns 7-9 (Odds to Win AFC North +885 at Justbet Sportsbook)
Pittsburgh Steelers 6-10 (Odds to Win AFC North +184 at Justbet Sportsbook)
2014 AFC North Final Thoughts:
The Ravens made the most improvements in this division by not moving backwards. Many key players that made this one of the toughest divisions in football have gone their own ways. While Cincinnati might still sneak into the Wild Card picture, Baltimore has the best passing game in this division and should come out on top. Joe Flacco, is being paid elite QB money, and he is going to earn it this season . Roethlisberger doesn’t have the weapons to get back into the playoffs.