It is baseball season, but there are plenty of ways to get your fill of football too. Our own Hank Koebler, IV is on the beat making his way across the NFL landscape exhaustively covering team after team. These previews will get you up to snuff with everything you need to know about the transition to each 2010 team.
Each preview covers the team's outlook and projection for the 2010 season. We've got in depth coverage of each team's offense, defense and special teams. We'll cover who's in and who's out, rookies, players in their prime and savvy veterans. Finally, we'll look at strategy and style of play on both sides of the ball, as well detailed information about coaches and players.
Check back often between now and the September 9th season kick-off as new team previews are going up almost every day. Clicking on the NFL Football in the right sidebar will take you right to the latest previews each time you come back.
Today Hank is previewing the AFC North teams, the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
AFC South Predicted Finish
The Ravens' defense is slowly declining, but they're good enough to keep the Ravens from losing and they will be fine in the future, as rookies Terrence Cody and Sergio Kindle were absolute steals in the draft and will anchor the defense for many years. On offense, the Ravens have surrounded Joe Flacco with a ridiculous amount of weapons, and anything less than a Super Bowl win from this team will be considered a disappointment.
This team is definitely a lot better than it was two years ago, and they look to be getting better. The reasons the Bengals are ranked lower than the Ravens is that Cincinnati has less depth at receiver, less speed at linebacker, and a tougher schedule (as a result of winning the division last year). However, if Bryant and Owens live up to expectations, the offense could be very potent. There are a lot of talented teams in the AFC, and the Bengals are definitely among the top half of the conference.
The Browns have gotten better over the offseason, but not good enough to beat the Bengals or the Ravens. They play an absolutely brutal schedule with the AFC East and NFC South, and they're already in a tough division as it is. This makes it very unlikely that they will go to the playoffs, but they have made a ton of progress in the year and a half since Mangini's been their head coach, and they should only continue to get better in the coming years.
Realistically, it is nearly impossible to find reasons for optimism towards the Steelers this upcoming season. Not only did they trade away the receiver that provided them with big-play opportunities, they also lost the only dominant blocker on their mediocre offensive line due to a season-ending injury. If that wasn't bad enough, their starting quarterback has been suspended for at least the first quarter of the season. As a whole, the defense is aging and will be in dire trouble if Troy Polamalu misses any games,which he has done 3 of the past 4 years. Every other team in the division has gotten better this offseason, but the Steelers have gotten significantly worse and will be hard-pressed to win even six of the games on their brutal schedule that includes the AFC East and NFC South. - Hank Koebler, IV
Hank is a sports journalist attending the University of Missouri's school of journalism.