Joe Starkey predicts how the season will go in the AFC North, predicting the Ravens will go 11-5, the Steelers 10-6 and the Bengals 9-7. (He doesn't even offer a prediction for the Browns.) You can quibble with the exact records and the placement of the teams, but it does appear pretty likely that the division will be strong again, and that neither the Ravens nor the Bengals are to be trifled with.â†µ
The big questions for the Steelers, of course, will be the team's age and its offensive line, and both those factors took a hit when first-round pick David DeCastro went down with a significant injury. But the Steelers' offense should be potent, even with question marks at the running back position, and its defense is usually a strength.â†µ
By the way, Starkey gets some fun quotes from safety Ryan Clark, who talks about the NFL's transition to a more passing-oriented game: "The game is changing from a tough man's sport to basketball with shoulder pads on." Starkey doesn't say so, but my guess is that Clark was also referring to recent rules changes regarding helmet-to-helmet hits that many Steelers feel are arbitrary and biased against them.â†µ
For more on the Steelers, check out Behind The Steel Curtain.