No one says 2021 will be an easy road for the Pittsburgh Steelers. A revamped roster. A difficult schedule. And arguably the toughest division in football. Cam Sutton is embracing the challenge.
He joined Lance Medow and Charles Davis on Sirius XM Radio to discuss what this year will be like competing alongside the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.
“Respectfully with all those teams, they’re all three great organizations,” Sutton told the show. “There’s no team in the lead. Especially in our division that we just look over and think that you’re just going to have an easy win or just any type of bye week.”
The Steelers captured the North Crown last season but it’ll be even tougher to repeat in 2021. The Browns have proven to be a legitimate team, finally finding stability at head coach with Kevin Stefanski and at quarterback with Baker Mayfield. They’re built with a strong run game, a retooled offensive line, and a defense that’s added reinforcements this offseason, signing S John Johnson and DE Jadeveon Clowney and drafting CB Greg Newsome. Baltimore is always a tough out and improved their weak wide receiver group with the additions of Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman. Even the Bengals are taking steps, albeit small ones, in the right direction. They upset the Steelers once last year so clearly, they’re a team who can’t be overlooked, as Sutton noted.
Sutton gave all three teams credit for making this as difficult a division in football and really, as competitive of a North as there’s been in quite some time.
“Those guys prepare. They have great caliber players, great organizations, great coaches, all those leading factors that could continue to put them on the right path each and every year to achieve their goals as well. They’re not going to lay down for us. We’re not going to lay down for anyone. So it was just the preaching of, like I said, just that same consistency and just come down here, competing and going after everything that we want.”
The Bengals improved during the 2010s but never become a real threat, always falling short of the finish line. And the Browns were bad for basically the entire century, save for one or two years worth of exceptions. Now, the Bengals are in a clear tier in the bottom of the division but aren’t as bad as those Browns teams. Baltimore or Cleveland could easily capture the AFC North; in fact, they’re the favorites.
The battle for the North will likely come down to what happens the final two weeks of the season. Pittsburgh hosts Cleveland in Week 17 before travelling to Baltimore for the season finale. What happens in those games could easily dictate the shape of the division and playoff race.