Sports

NFL Previews That Don’t Suck: AFC North

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 22: Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on against the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. The New England Patriots won, 41-7. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 22: Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on against the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. The New England Patriots won, 41-7. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)  

It comes as a surprise that the AFC North will even play football this year. From Chris Lewis-Harris’ (who?) substance-abuse suspension to Ray Rice’s “I totally didn’t mean to beat my wife” suspension to Josh Gordon’s “Bruh, two hits then pass that that season-long suspension,” is anyone even eligible to play this year? Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), yes.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Coach: Mike Tomlin

It’s hard to really tell how the Steelers and their team of should-be felons will pan out this year, but you can never count them out. Despite Ben “Sir Touch-a-Lot” Roethlisberger having one of the best years statistically of his career in 2013, the Steelers only went 8-8. Expect a return to form (hopefully not in a Vegas bathroom) of Big Ben and the Steelers squad.

LeGarrette “I Will Smash My Helmet Against Your Face” Blount was added in the offseason and should help bolster the sixth-worst rushing offense in the NFL. Antonio Brown is a stud. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Lance Moore were signed in the offseason and have been meh forever, but there have been flashes of decency from time to time. A healthy Heath Miller should help as well.

The defense should be able to step up as well. Cameron Heyward finally showed why he was a first round pick last year. Rookies Stephon Tuitt and Ryan Shazier will help as well. The Steelers apparently love former Al Davis busts since, along with Heyward-Bey, they signed Michael Mitchell to play safety. He had a good year in Carolina and should continue to play well next to Troy Polamalu’s hair.

 

Notable Losses: WR Emmanuel Sanders, S Ryan Clark, OLB LaMarr Woodley

Notable Additions: RB LeGarrette Blount, S Michael Mitchell, WR Darrius Heywar-Bey

Notable Draft Picks: LB Ryan Shazier, DE Stephon Tuitt, RB/WR Dri Archer

 

2013 Record: 8-8, 2nd in AFC East

AFC North Record: 4-2

 

Best Case Scenario: 12-4, AFC North Champion

Was last year an aberration? Probably. If Roethlisberger plays like last year and the rest of the cast gives just a little more effort, the Steelers might be back. A pretty easy schedule should help as well.

Worst Case Scenario: 6-10

Then again, counting on LeGarrette Blount, Markus Wheaton, Michael Mitchell and no injuries is always risky.

2014 Schedule:

vs. Browns

@ Ravens

@ Panthers

vs. Buccaneers

@ Jaguars

@ Browns

vs. Texans

vs. Colts

vs. Ravens

@ Jets

@ Titans

Bye

vs. Saints

@ Bengals

@ Falcons

vs. Chiefs

vs. Bengals