Heller’s Five Bold Predictions: AFC North

Heller’s Five Bold Predictions: AFC North

by July 14, 2021 1 comment

NFL fans rejoice, the 2021 season is just on the horizon. It’s the last month without football until March. Regardless of what team they root for, they widely remain optimistic that this is their year. Even the pessimistic fans are hopeful enough, besides their team has yet to lose a game this season.

While there are a few questions left to be answered around the league, it’s never too early for bold predictions for each of the NFL’s eight divisions. Here are those predictions for the AFC North.

One Quarterback Won’t Survive the Season 

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger showed his age as the season headed into December last season. His play dropped off earlier, but the defense masked his struggles by dominating every week. His receivers didn’t help him out with all the dropped passes. The only question is who will take his job if he were to lose it. Mason Rudolph‘s career highlight so far is when he was on the receiving end of a Myles Garrett helmet-wielding haymaker. Joshua Dobbs has not had much success in his limited opportunities. Dwayne Haskins enters the realm after his antics led to his release from Washington. 

The Ravens will take a Step Backward

Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson finally got his elusive first playoff win last season. Teams, especially the other three in this division, have built their defenses to contain Jackson, first and foremost. They are hoping to force him to beat them from the pocket and limit his RPO success. While they won’t win 13 regular-season games, they will have their work cut out for them to sneak into the playoffs as a wildcard team. Their final seven games include the Browns and Steelers twice each, along with the Packers and Rams. 

The Best Complete Team is the Division

A two-headed monster at running back. Playmaking wide receivers. A defense that is among the top few in the NFL. Along with a quarterback who, after last season, has quieted the naysayers. The Cleveland Browns were one fourth-down stop from upsetting the Chiefs and playing in the AFC Championship Game. That will fuel the Browns this season. They will win the division title and another playoff appearance. Baker Mayfield may even be in the MVP conversation at the season’s end.

Yet Another Disappointing Season, With Signs of Progress

Joe Burrow‘s rookie season ended when he tore his ACL. The Bengals were better offensively in the games he did start, although it didn’t result in many wins. With Burrow back and now paired with his LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase, the Bengals will put up points and translate them into more wins. The Bengals will finish under .500 on the season but by only a game or two. 6-11 or 7-10 is still a drastic improvement for the Bengals. 

Only One Team will make the Playoffs 

The Browns will win the division. The stretch run for the Ravens will be too much, even for a former MVP. The Pittsburgh offense will be their downfall, although the defense will give them every opportunity to win games. Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, the season will be an up and down one, but a successful one. They will experience some growing pains from their young offensive components. Barring any major injuries, the Browns could make a deep playoff run. 

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Husband, father of 3 and an avid sports fan. Living out my childhood dream of writing about sports, now that I'm in my forties.

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