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The Ravens are consistently one of the league’s best teams each season, but unfortunately were dealt some bad blows in terms of injuries last season. They lost starting quarterback Joe Flacco, starting running back Justin Forsett, number one wide receiver Steve Smith, and starting tight end Dennis Pitta last season due to injuries. The Ravens’ backup running back, Javorius Allen, proved that he could step in and be a great all-around running back, particularly a great pass catching running back, last season in Forsett’s absence, so the Ravens will have nothing to worry about if Forsett either goes down again with another injury, or just starts wearing down due to his age. The Ravens’ current defense is not particularly strong, however they did add safety Eric Weddle, who played for the San Diego Chargers last season. Despite the Ravens’ defense not being particularly strong, with everyone back healthy this year on the offensive side of the ball, the Ravens can limit the time their defense spends on the field and be back to their regular selves, Super Bowl contenders, like they are pretty much every season.
The Bengals have one of the if not the most well-rounded team in the NFL already, with one of the top offenses in the AFC, led by quarterback Andy Dalton, running back Jeremy Hill, and wide receiver AJ Green, all of whom rising stars, and the number 1 defense in points allowed last season among the AFC teams (number 2 among all NFL teams). The Bengals made a key improvements on the defensive side of the ball with the signing of linebacker Karlos Dansby, who should make an especially big impact on the defensive side of the ball for the Bengals when star linebacker Vontaze Burfict is serving his 3-game suspension. The Bengals have not won a playoff game since 1991, but with a team that is capable of having the best record in the NFL, the Bengals can snatch a first round bye, end their playoff winning drought, and offset all of their recent postseason pain by bringing home the Lombardi trophy. They have a team that is fully capable of pulling it off.
The Browns already completed step 1 on the road to Super Bowl glory, and that was cutting ties with troublemaking quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Browns ended up signing Robert Griffin III, who was one of the best running quarterbacks in the NFL when he was healthy back in the 2012 season when he played for the Washington Redskins, winning the Rookie of the Year award. The Browns will have many weapons for Griffin to throw to now as well, including 2013 receiving yards leader Josh Gordon (when he returns from his 4-game suspension), Corey Coleman, the first wide receiver drafted in this year’s NFL draft, and tight end Gary Barnidge, who had a breakout season last year for the Browns even without a solid quarterback. The Browns also typically have a relatively strong running game since their offensive line is pretty good, especially left tackle Joe Thomas. This season doesn’t look like it will be any different, and with Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell coming out of the Browns’ backfield as not only solid running backs but as solid pass catchers as well, particularly Johnson in terms of receiving, this Browns’ offense should be able to keep defenses guessing on a regular basis. It will be tough for the Browns to win the majority of their games with the lackluster defense that they have, but if all of the main components on the offensive side of their team get going, something special could happen in Cleveland this upcoming February.
The Steelers had one of the NFL’s best offenses last season, and that was without star running back LeVeon Bell for much of the year. This season, as long as he stays healthy, Bell should be on the field for most of the season, as long as his suspension stays at 4 games or decreases in length. Even when Bell was not on the field, however, backup running back DeAngelo Williams played even better than a typical starting running back when he was filling in for Bell, and he did not look like he was 32 years old last season, which he was. Also on the offensive side of the ball, the Steelers have future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and perhaps the best wide receiver in the NFL in Antonio Brown. With an already well-rounded defense in addition to their high-powered offense, the Steelers have the potential to be not just one of the best, but the best all-around team in the NFL, and are certainly Super Bowl contenders.
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