This shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise, and this actually touches a bit on the morning question that I posed today regarding the best non-Pittsburgh Steelers players in the AFC North at a particular position, but apparently everybody at ESPN expects a Steelers player to be the most valuable in the division in 2018.
The four beat writers representing the teams in the division were all polled recently about who they thought would be the most valuable player in the AFC North during the 2018 season. Two of them selected Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Two of them selected Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. None of them selected Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, though.
The Steelers’ beat writer, Jeremy Fowler, was among the two who opted for the quarterback, arguing that he “is well-positioned to have his best season since 2014”. He maintains that injuries and the lack of a consistent supporting cast over the past few years have hindered his play, but that those issue should be rectified this season.
Fowler also argues that the fact that he is playing in what is effectively a contract season, as well as the pressure of the team having addressed the quarterback position with a high draft pick that they view as a first-round talent, will only help to fuel him to have perhaps the best season of his career to date, which is realistic. He ended by saying that Roethlisberger should compete for the actual league MVP award as well.
Baltimore Ravens beat writer Jamison Hensley was the other scribe to opt for Roethlisberger. Hensley writes that he is “the catalyst for one of the most explosive offenses in the league”, and points out that he is one of just three quarterbacks who have won at least 20 games while throwing at least 45 touchdowns over the span of the past two years.
Pat McManamon, covering the Cleveland Browns, as well as the Cincinnati Bengals’ beat writer, Katherine Terrell, both chose Brown as their pick for the AFC North’s most valuable player for the 2018 season.
The argument from the former was simple: “how can you pick against the best player in the league?”. And, really, it’s a fair point. He emphasizes the fact that Brown has been a remarkably consistent player over the past half a decade, averaging well over 100 receptions, 1500 yards, and 10 touchdowns per season in that span.
Terrell only allows that Brown is “one of the best receivers in the league”, and says that he “will remain one of the most important pieces of the offense”. Ordinarily, those would be impressive accolades, but when it comes to Brown, they sound short-selling. She also questions how the change at offensive coordinator will affect him.