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AFC North Update

Of all the divisions, the AFC North was relatively free of drama this preseason other than the loss of many key players leaving Baltimore early in the preseason.   As we are seeing during Hardknocks, though, even when there seems to be little drama on the surface there is still a lot of compelling television-worthy stuff happening.

No, the AFC North was not the loudest division in the NFL this preseason, but they were not the quietest either.  Despite all that, it is now the preseason and we are preparing for Week 3 of preseason football.  Let take a look at some of the things we can take way about the AFC North given the developments thus far in the preseason.

It is Not Time to Panic in Baltimore


The Baltimore Ravens looked like they had every reason to panic when a crop of talent walked after the teams Super Bowl win.  Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard, Ray Lewis, Anquan Boldin and Paul Kruger all left for other teams or, in the case of Lewis, retired.  That left Baltimore with the dire task of filling those roster holes back up with talent.

The Ravens proceeded to offer Flacco a huge contract to stick around and then filled those wholes with talent who are on par, or just slightly below, departing talent but also have a smaller price tag.  With names like Dallas Clark, Chris Canty and Brandon Stokely added to the roster, it is not time for Baltimore to panic.  Rather, they need to simply wait and see if this cost effective strategy works out.

The Bengals Look Really Good

Andy Dalton

The Cincinnati Bengals are 2-0 this preseaon.  Yes, we realize that the preseason does not count.  We also know that it is still way too early to completely judge this team.  However, we will say that it appears that Bengals fans have a lot to look forward to in their quarterback this season.

Andy Dalton looks to have upped his game this year.  In his last outing against the Tennessee Titans, he completed 9 of 14 of his passes and threw for 115 yards plus a touchdown.  He earned a  113.7 passer rating in this game. And it was not just one workhorse receiver carrying the team like in the past.  Dalton completed nine passes to five different receivers.  This was simply Dalton stepping up and leading this team.

Weeden Looks like He can still Pull It Off


Cleveland Browns QB Brandon Weeden seemed to be on his last legs, with his job loss eminent.  However, after turning in two dominating performances in the preseason he looks as though he could still be a great starter.

In his first preseason outting he put up numbers good enough to earn him a 127.7 quarterback rating.  Then in Week 2, against a much more aggressive defense, he posted an even better quarterback rating at 137.8.  Weeden is exhibiting a comfort and accuracy that we have never seen in him before.  Now let’s see if he can keep it up.

The Steelers are Sill Struggling


After a disappointing 8-8 season, many thought the Pittsburgh Steelers would storm back and retake the AFC North division. However, after going 0-2 so far this preseason and looking just overall unimpressive, it seems the Steelers are still struggling to get it together.

With an aging defense, an injury-prone starting quarterback, a departing Mike Wallace and still no clear standout to start as runningback the Steelers look as though they may be in trouble, in a division where all the teams are moving toward improvement as they get left behind.



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