NFL Storylines: AFC North

7/30/13 in NFL   |   GFortier   |   520 respect

Blog Photo - NFL Storylines: AFC North
 
The NFL's popularity is at an all-time high, and this coming season seems as intriguing as ever. Time to feed the beast and take a division-by-division look at the five biggest questions facing each team in the league. Here's the AFC North. 

Baltimore Ravens

The defending champs!-- have lost Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, Paul Kruger, and Dannell Ellerbe. Will this be a team that's as hungry as any other in the NFL, or simply a shell of the 2012-13 champions?

Joe Flacco straight up made himself some money last season, but this is the NFL-- will he be able to deliver again now that he's won his massive contract?

Can Torrey Smith elevate his game and become a true #1 receiver with the departure of Anquan Boldin?

Will 1st-round-draft pick Matt Elam be able to step in at free safety and make up some of what they lost in Ed Reed?

Who will emerge as the leader on that defense with Ray Lewis gone?

Cincinnati Bengals

The window to succeed is slim in the NFL, and right now that window is open for Cinci. With Andy Dalton and A.J. Green still on their rookie contracts, can the Bengals make it count?

A.J. Green is already one of the 5 best wide receivers in football. Will he continue his dominance?

How will 1st-round-pick Tyler Eiffert fare?

Will 2nd-round-pick Giovani Bernard be able to turn the backfield into a formidable tack alongside Benjarvus Green-Ellis?

Will Marvin Lewis coach the Bengals forever

Cleveland Browns

Who's going to be the QB in Cleveland? Brandon Weeden? Jason Campbell? Brian Hoyer? 

The Browns sold the farm for Trent Richardson in the 2012 draft, will he be able to vindicate them this season?

The team that has been starved for big names ever since it was reinstated into the league now has a 6th-overall-pick by the name of Barkevious Mingo. He was touted as a boom or bust pick, now which will he be?

Will free-agent-addition Paul Kruger deliver another 10+ sacks or prove to be a flash in the pan?

New GM Michael Lombardi is going to make a lot of decisions based on this season, and this team could very well be in the running for one of the top QBs in the 2014 draft class. Consider the 2013 season as one big tryout-- who's going to make the cut?

Pittsburgh Steelers

Can Big Ben make it through a season without getting injured?

Who will emerge as the top running back in the Black and Gold's backfield? Jonathan Dwyer? Isaac Redman? Rooke Le'Veon Bell? Offseason addition Larod Stephens-Howling? This is totally up in the air.

Plaxico is back! And he will get a full season to make an impact. Will he?

Can Troy Polamalu stay on the field for 16 games and be the game-changer that he is, or are his best years behind him?

Can Jarvis Jones replace the recently-departed James Harrison? He was certainly picked 17th overall to do just that.

Check out the storylines for the AFC East. 

Follow @gregfortier
 
Notify me by email about comments that follow mine. Preview