To my surprise Tuesday's blog received quite a bit of attention. It seems there's quite a few Charger fans out there that are blinded by loyalty and can't see the forest from the trees. I've been there before and I understand their pain. I know I wield the truth like a blunt object in a dark alley and sometimes feelings get hurt. It's a part of the business I don't like, but one I can't control. Handicapping ain't easy. Here is how the AFC North will shake out.
Division winner: Pittsburgh Steelers. James Harrison had a colorful off season, but other than that the Steelers look pretty much the same as they did in the Super Bowl last year. The entire division gets to feast on the NFC West this year and Ben Roethlisberger will not miss the first four games for disciplinary reasons. It's a two team race and the Steelers will come out victorious.
2nd place: Baltimore Ravens. If only they had a game changer on offense. The Baltimore Ravens are every bit as good as the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they don't make big plays when they really need it. Moral victories get old and unless Joe Flacco and Ray Rice turn the corner the Ravens will have to be content with 2nd place once again.
3rd place: Cleveland Browns. If Peyton Hillis is the focal point of your offense you have some work to do. Colt McCoy looked impressive towards the end of last season and we'll see if he can pick up where he left off. The Holmgren rebuilding process will take time and the Browns are a year away from respectability.
last place: Cincinnati Bengals. Give Mike Brown credit for sticking to his guns. That old man wouldn't trade Carson Palmer if his grand children's lives depended on it. Chad Ocho Cinco and Terrell Owens have also been shown the door and the new Bengal era begins. I do think Andy Dalton to A.J. Green will be a great combo in the near future, but not this season. With Baltimore and Pittsburgh on your schedule twice a year the goal is to just stay healthy and hold onto the ball.