Apart from the AFC East, which the New England Patriots has ruled without exception since the Paleozoic Era, AFC North has probably changed at least by any NFL division in recent years.
Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals have gone toe-to-toe-to-toe year after year, trading successes while leaving bruises on each other. The Steelers, with eight division titles since 2002, have won the most, followed by Ravens (five) and Bengals (four). But they have all had their moments. And they all have faithfully bound Cleveland Browns to dust.
In that macro sense, almost nothing has changed in the AFC North for well over a decade.
Suddenly, however, the division has been overrun in upheaval. Few other divisions around the NFL, if any, experience so much change.
The Bengals and Browns have new head coaches. Browns and Ravens have new franchise quarterbacks. Ravens has a new director after 23 years with Ozzie Newsome. The Steelers have moved from two signature players, Le & # 39; Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Browns suddenly have the most dynamic team of playmakers, led by just acquired Odell Beckham Jr.
When Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook recently released a team odds that win their divisions in 201
In other words, up now is officially down and dark is now official light in AFC North, as Browns is the chalk (horse racing term for favorite) according to at least one opinion maker, with more safe to follow.
Ravens, who won the division with a late increase in 2018, is likely to be & # 39; I want to get a lot of support for their vision of a successful title defense.
I'll get it. Everyone loves a good turnaround narrative, and no team in any sport, let alone the NFL, had more to turn around than the Browns. They went 1-31 in 2016 and 2017 before entering and finishing 7-8-1 in 2018.
Give them credit. They have done a fantastic job of improving their perspectives. They prepared the right franchise quarterback, as well as several other stalwarts on both sides of the ball. They have somehow drawn trade for Beckham. They generate tangible energy and buzz.
Perhaps it will all result in a division title in 2019, but Ravens and Steelers will probably take steps in the wrong direction for it to happen. I believe in it when I see it.
My two cents, you fall asleep on the Steelers at your peril. Yes, they have drawn some great star power. But they still have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and they have already used another generation of playmakers. Their blueprint can change, but as the Ravens can attest, they are really good at knowing how to build winning teams.
Ravens belongs to the same category.
Yes, they enter a new era with Lamar Jackson replacing Joe Flacco at quarterback and Earl Thomas leads a slate new defensive starter, some of which have not yet been identified. They also take daring philosophical thanks, gathering a land-based offense in a passing league and doubling their defensive investment into an offensive mind.
But the fact that they only have lost season for 11 years under head coach John Harbaugh speaks volumes about their capacity to win winning teams. Parts of their lineup may change, but there is plenty of talent and a strong sense of togetherness that was evident during the operation of a division title in 2018. As always, they will play as hard and physically as anyone.
No Doubts, Browns have got to watch TV. My first prediction for the 2019 season is one of the Cleveland-Baltimore games landing in a prime slot. Early in the season, I guess.
Whatever, life in AFC North will certainly be different. But will it be different enough to rewrite the long-standing status quo? Many seem to think so, but I have doubts.