2013 NFL Preview: AFC North

Ravens won't fly away with AFC North title in 2013

9/2/13 in NFL   |   jakeryanbrown   |   28 respect

The Baltimore Ravens are coming off their second Super Bowl title last season, but the task won't be easy for a repeat this year.  With the losses of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Anquan Boldin, winning the AFC North is going to be tough with the Cincinnati Bengals knocking on the door.  The Steelers seemed to just get worse in the offseason, and the Browns will be better, but not there yet.  Let's take a look at how the AFC North will play out.
 
1. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) 

Aug 24, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The Bengals defense is regarded as one of the best in the NFL right now.  They have a ton of young talent mixed with some veterans that make them very dangerous.  Cincinnati locked up DT Geno Atkins to a huge deal and are expecting big things from their 4-3 defense.  This team has put the pieces together to overtake the Ravens in the division.  A lot will depend on the growth of quarterback Andy Dalton and what they get from their rushing attack.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis and rookie Giovani Bernard are expected to split carries in the backfield.  An improved run game to join playmakers outside in A.J. Green and Ben Tate should make the Bengals the best all-around team in the AFC North.  Expect them to beat out the Ravens in a tiebreaker scenario with a 10-6 record.  
 


2. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
 
The loss of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed will make a big difference for the Ravens defense in 2013. 
They Aug 22, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) drops back to pass against the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sportswill miss that veteran leadership, but the addition of Elvis Dumervil in the offseason should offset the loss of those two future Hall of Famers.  The Ravens actually got worse on offense more than they did on defense.  They lost WR Anquan Boldin to the 49ers and lost TE Dennis Pitta to injury, which leaves them shorthanded on offense, but don’t let Joe Flacco know that.  The Super Bowl Champion quarterback just inked a ludicrous $120 million contract as he still brings back Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, and Jacoby Jones.  The Ravens should be fine finishing with a 10-6 record and one of the two Wild Card spots.
 
 
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