Which AFC North team is going to win the division in 2015? That’s the question the ESPN.com AFC North beat writers were all asked recently to answer and three of the four chose the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Unsurprisingly, Jamison Hensley was the lone AFC North beat writer to go against the Steelers and below is his reasoning for choosing the Baltimore Ravens, the team that he covers.
“The Steelers’ downfall is going to be their defense,” writes Hensley. “The Bengals didn’t take the necessary step forward this offseason after a fourth straight one-and-done in the postseason. And the Browns should struggle with the lack of a legitimate passing attack.”
Hensley goes on to predict that 10 wins will be enough to take the AFC North crown this year. He also believes that the Ravens offense will be fine in 2015 thanks to them adding wide receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end Maxx Williams via the draft.
Jeremy Fowler, who covers the Steelers, doesn’t have the same faith in the Ravens young offensive playmakers that Hensley does.
“Baltimore has a manageable schedule, but the revolving door at the playmaker spots, plus a new coordinator, could cause a slow start for Joe Flacco,” writes Fowler.
As for Pat McManamon, who covers the Cleveland Browns, he thinks the Steelers “have too much talent not to win the division.” However, he does have the Cincinnati Bengals making the playoffs as a wild-card team out of the AFC North.
Coley Harvey, who covers the Bengals, also has the Steelers winning the AFC North in 2015. In his prediction, however, he said he thinks it will be tough for three teams in the divsion to make the playoffs this season like happened last year.
“Until someone dethrones them, it’s hard picking against the Steelers, another team that brings back a number of players in key positions,” writes Harvey.
Personally, I think the division will come down to a fight between the Steelers and the Bengals as I truly believe the Ravens will take a step backwards in 2015 due mainly to the play of their offense. While I do think Perriman and Williams are both good players with bright futures, the fact that they’re rookies and will be relied on so heavily in their first years in the league will be asking just too much.
As for my final prediction, as usual, you’ll have to wait until a few days before the regular-season gets underway before I release that.