NFL Training Camp Primer: AFC North
The Ravens revamped offense has everyone talking Superbowl, but the Steelers will have something to say about that.
FindBet continues our tour of NFL training camps as we approach the start of the NFL season. Let's take a look at the headlines coming out of the AFC North and make our record predictions for 2020.
AP Photo/Gail Burton
The Ravens have the reigning NFL MVP in Lamar Jackson. The dual threat quarterback burst on to the scene in 2019, taking the league by storm. Baltimore loaded up on offense in this year's draft, adding receivers Devin Duvernay and James Proche, as well as highly touted RB JK Dobbins to help supplement Jackson with more firepower which pairs well with an elite defensive unit. The biggest roadblock for the Ravens this year will be Lamar Jackson's continued development, if he continues to mature as a passer, the Ravens have enough talent to challenge the Chiefs in the AFC in 2020.
Prediction: 12-4 (Division Champ)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Everything that could go wrong offensively in 2019 went wrong for the Steelers. Losing Ben Roethlisberger for the year after Week 2 put a damper on the Steelers' playoff hopes, but the maturation of the defense in 2019 is the real story line. The Steelers began a return down the road to dominance, a word that has always been synonymous with their defenses of the past. Now with the return of Big Ben in 2020, the Steelers look primed to make a run at a wildcard spot and possibly the division title. Dionate Johnson looks to be the next star wide receiver to emerge from the organization, and all reports indicate rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool has been impressive during training camp. The Steelers will be good, but most likely a split with the Ravens will prevent them from a division crown.
Prediction: 11-5 (Wild Card Berth)
Another year, another new coaching staff for Cleveland. The team starts the year with its 3rd coaching staff in three years, but the Browns picked a good one this time in former Vikings Offensive Coordinator, Kevin Stefanski, who will be taking over for Freddie Kitchens after just one full season as Head Coach. Stefanski brings an offense to Cleveland designed to take the pressure off Baker Mayfield by utilizing 22 personnel (two tight ends, two wide receivers) more while utilizing Nick Chubb more efficiently. The Browns defense will be the deciding factor on Cleveland's success in 2020. Losing second rounder Grant Delpit for the year was a massive blow to their secondary, Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward will need to be that much more effective with Delpit out of the lineup. They organization has expressed interest in free agent Logan Ryan, formerly of the Tennessee Titans, as a replacement for the injured rookie. With very little practice time due to COVID-19 cancelling all off season in person practice, it's hard to see the Browns shooting out of the gate. But Stefanski is going to be a great coach in this league if he's given the proper chance by management.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
The Bengals secured the top overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft after a dismal first season under head coach Zac Taylor that saw AJ Green sit out the entire year with an "ankle" injury, and a defense that couldn't stop anyone. The Bengals landed the top QB prospect, Joe Burrow, who immediately took over for long time starter Andy Dalton (who is now in Dallas backing up Dak Prescott). Burrow's poise and leadership has been on display early in camp, and he has had an immediate connection with Tyler Boyd throughout the offseason. The Bengals may have found their franchise quarterback, but they are still a year or two away from contention in a formidable AFC North.
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