The NFL odds are very even between the top three teams, but all of them have some valid concerns.
After winning the Super Bowl last season, the Ravens’ defense has been decimated by free agency, and of course the retirement of Ray Lewis. However the offense has been left pretty much in tact. They lost Anquan Boldin, but he is replaceable, and after him, the only thing that is really different is the size of Joe Flacco’s paycheck. Flacco, Torrey Smith, Ray Rice and company will have to take over a larger portion of the offense, but with talented skill players behind them as well, the Ravens’ offense is looking as deadly as they were at the end of last season. They really didn’t have much extra work to do on offense this summer, so for that they deserve a solid passing grade.
My Grade: B-
The Steelers were hit with multiple counts of injury and inconsistency last season, but they appear ready to take on a new season of playing in the AFC North. Last season Ben Roethlisberger was limited to only 13 games and the Steelers also lost running back Rashard Mendenhall for the season. Without Big Ben, the offense fell apart, and with Mendenhall now gone, a rookie RB, Le’Veon Bell looks ready to take on the bulk of the carries. The biggest question with the Steelers’ offense at this point in the offseason is health, but before you go out and add the Steelers to your NFL picks, I would watch them a bit in the preseason to check the health of Roethlisberger.
My Grade: B-
I am very bullish on the Bengals this season, and the talent they have amassed on offense is a big reason why. I have already picked them to win the division, and if Andy Dalton can make that next step into quarterback greatness, the Bengals could go from just a playoff contender, to a title contender. Last season was yet another building year for the Bengals, and with the draft picks of Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard, this offense has a ton of weapons to go with the extremely talented AJ Green. If Dalton can turn into a top 10 QB, watch out AFC.
We go from the bullish Ohio team to the bearish. The Browns have more problems than solutions at this point in the summer, but I am not quite ready to label them a complete bust for 2013. However, Brandon Weeden did not look great last season, Trent Richardson could not stay healthy and is still not healthy, and Josh Gordon is now suspended for the first few games of the season. On top of all of that, the owner, Jimmy Haslam is apparently in some serious legal and financial trouble. All of the above considered, I’m still not ready to flunk the Browns, but they are percentage points away from repeating this course.
My Grade: C-
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