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Saturday, October 23, 2010

NFL Trimester Report: AFC North "Contender or Pretender"

So what makes a team a "contender"? It takes more than a collection of big names and a lot of so-called talent. While those factors do help, having the ability to pull together as a team and finding ways to win in the face of adversity is the key quality of a "contender". With that said, let's get into the profiles of the AFC North...

Pittsburgh (4-1)
It was difficult to predict how the Steelers would look going into the season as their franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for the first four games for violating the league's personal conduct policy. The Steelers managed to jump out to a nice start by utilizing a ball control offense behind RB Rashard Mendenhall and a stingy defense. The defense is only giving up an amazingly low 63 rushing yards per game, rank fourth in total defense and allow the fewest points in the NFL (12 per game). The Steel Curtain is legit. With Roethlisberger back under center (he looked very good in his first game back) this gives the Steelers offense that big play element that could possibly put them over the top. Here's one for you Steelers fans w/ the terrible towels (Pittsburgh representer Wiz Khalifa's "Black & Yellow") Contender

Baltimore (4-2)
The Ravens have already notched a couple of nice victories so far, having issued to serious contenders their only losses early in the season (beating the Jets 10-9 in the season opener and and a 17-14 victory over the Steelers sans Roethlisberger). Joe Flacco seems to have already developed nice chemistry with Anquan Boldin as the two look like they have been playing together for years. The offense is still waiting for RB Ray Rice to get going but they still are able to move the ball. The defense,still led by intense LB Ray Lewis, has been excellent against the pass early on as well, and will be getting S Ed Reed back this week. The Ravens are definitely a team to be reckoned with the rest of the season. Contender

Cincinnatti (2-3)
2010 was supposed to be the season that the Bengals turned the page and became one of the best teams in the league but something seems to be lacking. QB Carson Palmer has been erratic so far which has limited the play making ability of boistrous wide receiver tandom Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco (both who appear to be more concerned with their off the field personas instead of on the grid iron). We won't even talk about their show together. Their remaining schedule looks pretty tough, so it may be time for the aging Bengals to start rebuilding for the future as their window is quickly closing. Pretender

Cleveland (1-5)
The Browns went into this season in full rebuild mode afer drafting Colt McCoy to be their eventual starter and signing vet Jake Delhomme to hold down the spot until McCoy was ready. We all know Delhomme is not very good. At all. Injuries to Delhomme and back up Seneca Wallace forced the Browns to go to McCoy a little earlier than expected so fans are getting a glimpse of the future right now. The Browns won't win many games this year, but given the right weapons and McCoy might finally be the quarterback they have been looking for. If they can keep him upright, of course. Pretender


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