The AFC North is far from perfect, which helped the Baltimore Ravens go 14-2 in the 2019 season. The Browns were the most overhyped team heading into last year after Baker Mayfield’s strong rookie campaign and the acquisition of Odell Beckham. The Browns have been waiting for a Franchise Quarterback and finally found one in Baker Mayfield. Sure, there are off the field questions when it comes to his maturity and leadership. But, we saw an unusual spark in his Senior Year at Oklahoma as well as at the end of his rookie year in Cleveland. We all know that being on Hard Knocks HBO series dims the light on your season. Just ask Antonio Brown and the 2019 Oakland Raiders. Back to back years, the off season hype was too big for the organization trying to climb out of the trenches of the bottom of the National Football League.
There is finally no unnecessary gossip about the Browns heading into 2020. Distractions can make or break a professional team. The media, the stories, can really drive a wedge inside a locker room and separate the camaraderie needed to win a Championship. Cleveland had some big problems on the offensive line the past few seasons since they drafted Mayfield. Mayfield was sacked 40 times this past season resulting in 285 sack yards, not the way your offense should be moving. Drafting Jedrick Willis out of Alabama with the 10th overall pick is going to help their offense when it comes to keeping their signal caller off his back and on his feet pushing the ball down field.
The offense of the Browns has Top 10 potential written all over it. Landry and OBJ might just take the crown for the best wide receiver duo in the league. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the backfield give the ultimate one-two punch when it comes to running and receiving out of the backfield. Tight End Austin Hooper was signed from the Falcons. He should be an immediate asset to the offense in terms of production. Talent is not the problem when it comes to the Browns. They’ve struggled to make ends meet and put together a winning football culture. Kevin Stefanski is now the Head Coach of the Browns. Stefanski was the offensive coordinator the Minnesota Vikings last season where the Skols’ went 10-6 and were able to win a postseason game vs New Orleans.
AFC North Rankings
The Bengals have some rebuilding years ahead of them before they are a relevant NFL Team. The future is bright for Joe Burrow. But, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was a successful NFL Team! The Steelers are banking on an injury riddled Ben Roethlisberger to play a full 16 game season which is highly in doubt. I believe the Steelers D will balance out their below average offense. This leaves the Browns and Ravens clashing for the division title. Personally, I still value Baltimore as the better team in the division but Cleveland should certainly be knocking on the door of the 2020 NFL Posteason.
1.) Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
2.) Cleveland Browns (9-7)
3.) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-9)
4.) Cincinnati Bengals (4-12)
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-Fred O’Brien (@FOBSportsNFL)