The Cleveland Browns are likely a much improved team, but will still not gain ground in the standings of the AFC North. That’s the prediction by Jamison Hensley of ESPN.
The Cleveland Browns will end up being the most improved team in the AFC North and will still finish in last place. That’s how tough this division has become. The goal would be to reach .500, but there’s still too many holes on this team for the Browns to achieve that. This has the look of a sixth straight double-digit-loss season, even though this team will be better than the previous ones.
Of course predictions are tough in the NFL with so many rosters looking like shells of what they were in August by the time the season is over.
Additionally, this time of year everyone seems to think players will produce at their best levels from the year prior. So Joe Flacco is clearly the guy who threw no interceptions in the playoffs with a QB rating of 117.2 as opposed to the guy who averaged an 87.7 rating for the entirety of the regular season while also having Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta in his arsenal. Hensley has predicted that the Ravens will win the AFC North title and go one win better during the regular season than they did a year ago to finish 11-5.
ESPN Steelers reporter Scott Brown, meanwhile predicts a 9-7 record for the Pittsburgh team while grasping at straws to justify an improvement over the 2012 season. “The Steelers slipped to mediocrity in 2012,” writes Brown before wondering, “and it is fair to ask whether they will be good enough to be even an eight-win team this season.” In the end, Brown must have been convinced by producing “evidence” about how the offense “could” be better in Todd Haley’s second season. That’s a stark contrast to the words of warning that ESPN’s Jeffri Chadiha used in training camp indicating that Steelers fans could be in for a long year as the team could be “less competitive” than they were in going 8-8 in 2012.
Hensley finishes off the AFC North predictions by complimenting the Bengals, sending them to the playoffs for a third straight season with a 10-6 record.
It’s not totally different than predictions that we had here at WFNY for the division. A couple writers predicted the Bengals would take the top spot and a couple more predicted the Ravens would remain in the driver’s seat.