2016 AFC North Outlook

Posted: September 1, 2016 in NFL

Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens finished last year with a record 5-11 resulting in a third place finish in the AFC North, missing the playoffs. John Harbaugh enters his ninth year as head coach for Baltimore. In his previous eight seasons, he is the owner of a 77-51 regular season record and a 10-5 playoff record. Marc Trestman will enter his second season as offensive coordinator for the Ravens. According to Football Outsiders, Baltimore owned the 20th best offense in the NFL. There passing and rushing offense ranked 21st and 18th, respectively. Dean Pees will begin his fifth season as defensive coordinator for the Ravens. The defense also ranked 20th overall per Football Outsiders. Their rush defense was almost top 10 in the NFL at 12, while their passing defense was a dismal 25th in the NFL.

Offseason Summary

Departures: G Kelechi Osemele, DE Courtney Upshaw, LB Daryl Smith, S Will Hill, DE Chris Canty, OT Eugene Monroe

Arrivals: S Eric Weddle, WR Mike Wallace, TE Ben Watson, G Vladimir Ducasse, CB Jerraud Powers

Top Draft Picks: OT Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame, #6 overall), LB Kamalei Correa (Boise St, #42), DE Bronson Kaufusi (BYU, #70)

Preseason Awards

MVP: Joe Flacco

Non-QB MVP: Steve Smith

Offensive Player of the Year: Marshal Yanda

Defensive Player of the Year: Terrell Suggs

Other Notable players: Kamar Aiken, Jeremy Zuttah, Jimmy Smith, CJ Mosley, Brandon Williams

Strongest position group: Offensive skill players

Weakest position group: Quarterback

Preseason Projection

The Ravens are projected for 9.5 wins with a 90% confidence interval of 5.7 to 13.2 wins. They begin the season with a 57.8% chance of making the playoffs and a 2.7% chance of winning the Super Bowl. The graph below shows the Ravens probability of winning X number of games.

Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals finished last season with a 12-4 record and their fifth straight playoff appearance. It also happened to be their fifth straight Wild Card Round exit as they fell apart mentally late in the game against Pittsburgh. Marvin Lewis will return to coach his 14th year with Cincinnati. In his first thirteen years as head coach of the Bengals, he has a 112-94-2 regular season record. However, Lewis has yet to guide the Bengals to a postseason victory with a 0-7 playoff record. Ken Zampese will enter his first season as Bengals offensive coordinator as Hue Jackson left to take the head coaching job for divisional rival Cleveland. The Bengals offense was excellent last season with the #2 overall ranked offense, with the #1 passing offense and the seventh ranked rushing offense last year. Paul Guenther will enter his third year as defensive coordinator for Cincinnati. The Bengals defense ranked 10th overall last year. The Bengals ranked top 10 in both rushing and passing defense last season as well.

Offseason Summary

Departures: S Reggie Nelson, WR Marvin Jones, CB Leon Hall, DE Wallace Gilberry, WR Mohamed Sanu, OT Andre Smith, LB Emmanuel Lamur

Arrivals: LB Karlos Dansby, WR Brandon LaFell

Top Draft Picks: CB William Jackson III (Houston, #24 overall), WR Tyler Boyd (Pittsburgh, #55), LB Nick Vigil (Utah State, #87)

Preseason Awards

MVP: Andy Dalton

Non-QB MVP: A.J. Green

Offensive Player of the Year: Andrew Whitworth

Defensive Player of the Year: Carlos Dunlap

Other Notable players: Tyler Eifert, Adam Jones, Vontaze Burfict, Geno Atkins

Strongest position group: Front seven

Weakest position group: Offensive skill players

Preseason Projection

The Bengals have are projected for 11.4 wins with a 90% confidence interval of 7.8 to 14.8 wins. The Bengals enter the season with an approximate 86.3% chance of making the playoffs and a 13.7% chance of winning the Super Bowl. The graph below shows the Bengals probability of winning X number of games.

Bengals

Cleveland Browns

The Browns finished last season 3-13 and last place in the AFC North for the eleventh time in thirteen years. The Browns will look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002 with new head coach Hue Jackson, who comes over from Cincinnati. Hue Jackson’s only previous head coaching experience was with Oakland in 2011 where they finished 8-8. Hue Jackson is planning to do the play calling for Cleveland and as a result, they currently do not have an offensive coordinator. The Browns ranked 27th overall on offense with the #27 passing offense and the #19 rushing offense. Ray Horton will lead the Browns defense in his second season as defensive coordinator for the Browns; however, his first season with Cleveland was in 2013. He spent the last two seasons in Tennessee as their defensive coordinator. The Browns had the 29th ranked defense last year according to Football Outsiders. Their rushing defense ranked 26th while their passing defense ranked 27th.

Offseason Summary

Departures: OT Mitchell Schwartz, C Alex Mack, WR Travis Benjamin, S Tashaun Gipson, LB Craig Robertson, S Donte Whitner, LB Karlos Dansby, WR Dwayne Bowe

Arrivals: QB Robert Griffin III, S Rahim Moore, LB Demario Davis, OT Alvin Bailey, LB Justin Tuggle

Top Draft Picks: WR Corey Coleman (Baylor, #15 overall), DE/OLB Emmanuel Ogbah (Oklahoma State, #32), DE Carl Nassib (Penn State, #65)

Preseason Awards

MVP: Robert Griffin III

Non-QB MVP: Joe Thomas

Offensive Player of the Year: Corey Coleman

Defensive Player of the Year: Joe Haden

Other Notable players: Gary Barnidge, Demario Davis, Christian Kirksey

Strongest position group: Offensive Line

Weakest position group: Front seven

 Preseason Projection

The Browns are projected for 2.8 wins with a 90% confidence interval of 1.0 to 6.0 wins. The Browns enter the season with less than a 1% chance of making the playoffs. The graph below shows the Browns probability of winning X number of games.

Browns.png

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers finished last season 10-6 and earned a wild card spot, making their second consecutive postseason appearance. Their season ended with a loss in the divisional round to the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos. Mike Tomlin will enter his tenth season as head coach of the Steelers. During his first nine seasons as head coach, Tomlin had a 92-52 regular season record and led the Steelers to the playoffs 6 times—including 2 Super Bowl appearances. Todd Haley will enter his sixth season as offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has had a top-3 NFL offense for two straight years as they ranked third overall last year, per Football Outsiders, with the fifth best passing offense and fourth best rushing defense. Keith Butler will enter his second season as defensive coordinator for the Steelers and the Steelers defense saw major improvements in Butler’s first season. Pittsburgh ranked eleventh overall last year on the defensive side of the ball, up 19 spots from their thirtieth overall ranking in 2014. The Steelers had the thirteenth best passing defense and the fifth best rushing defense last season.

Offseason Summary

Departures: CB Antwon Blake, DT Steve McLendon, CB Cortez Allen, LB Sean Spence, CB Brandon Boykin, TE Heath Miller

Arrivals: OT Ryan Harris, TE Ladarius Green, DE Ricardo Mathews

Top Draft Picks: CB Artie Burns (Miami FL, #25 overall), CB Sean Davis (Maryland, #58), DT Javon Hargrave (South Carolina State, #89)

Preseason Awards

MVP: Ben Roethlisberger

Non-QB MVP: Antonio Brown

Offensive Player of the Year: Maurkice Pouncey

Defensive Player of the Year: Cameron Heyward

Other Notable players: Le’veon Bell, Stephon Tuitt, James Harrison, David DeCastro

Strongest position group: Offensive skill players

Weakest position group: Secondary

Preseason Projection

The Steelers are projected for 12.0 wins with a 90% confidence interval of 8.5 to 15.3 wins. The Steelers enter the season with a 91.5% chance of making the playoffs and an 11.9% of winning the Super Bowl. The graph below shows Pittsburgh’s probability of winning X number of games.

Steelers

Projected AFC North Standings

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
  2. Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)
  3. Baltimore Ravens (9-7)
  4. Cleveland Browns (3-13)
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