September 04, 2006

Frinklin Football Forecaster: AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers
God, do I hate this team. In my head I understand they’re as good as anybody in football right now, and perfectly capable of catching fire at the right time and winning it all again. Much will depend on Big Ben and how much time he’s gone for an emergency appendectomy. If the Steelers have to play Charlie Batch for any stretch of time, either the Ravens or Bengals could sneak by and capture the division.

2.Cincinnati Bengals
Cincy’s 2006 season is contingent on two things: can Carson Palmer come back at close to 100% and survive a brutal opening month? And can enough Bengals stay out of prison long enough to take the field? Palmer looked brilliant in his only preseason appearances, but let’s see how he does at full speed. With the departure of Jon Kitna, the Bengals fall off a cliff quality-wise. Anthony Wright and Doug Johnson are the back-ups. Yeesh.

3. Baltimore Ravens
Is Steve McNair the answer? He’d better be, because Kyle Boller never even knew the question. The Raven’s season boils down to the same issue has the past couple years. Is the offense good enough to keep up with Baltimore’s heralded defense? The problem is, even if McNair plays well and stays healthy -he hasn’t done either the past two years- the offense still has issues. Backup tailback Chester Taylor left as a free agent, and Jamal Lewis seems to be grinding to a halt. Can Mark Clayton continue to improve and take pressure off Derrick Mason and Todd Heap? And hey, is McNair any good anymore?

4. Cleveland Browns
Things are going in the right direction for the Land of Cleve, but not all that quickly. Charlie Fry, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow could form a dynamic passing game. Say around… 2008? At this point Frye is unproven, Edwards can’t stay healthy and Winslow is…. Well, he’s a soldier I guess. The Browns did pick up several ageing -old actually- vets like Willie McGinest to provide leadership and stopgaps at problem areas. Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel have this team pointed in the right direction, but for now progress will be slow.

Champion: Pittsburgh Steelers
Wild Card: Cincinnati Bengals


Posted by Frinklin at September 4, 2006 06:49 PM | TrackBack
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