The dog days of summer can’t last forever and thank goodness for that because football is around the corner, and we are gearing up for the 2023 NFL season with our divisional previews. We will be going division by division, breaking down the biggest headlines, the new additions, and our predictions. Here’s our 2023 AFC North Preview.
After bursting onto the scene two years ago with a Super Bowl appearance, the Bengals and Joey B proved that they weren’t one-hit wonders and they followed up an AFC Championship season with a 12-4 record and another trip to the AFC Title game where the Chiefs got the best of them this time around. It was an up and down year for the Ravens who still managed to win 10 games and take a trip to the playoffs as Lamar Jackson missed key games down the stretch and the talk around his contract situation seemed to be a bit of a distraction. The Steelers, in their first year without Ben Roethlisberger, were led by Kenny Pickett as they made a hard try for the playoffs but came up just short after a 9-win season. The Browns struggled, even once Deshaun Watson came back from his lengthy suspension, and the team finished in last place.
Favorite to Win in 2023
The Bengals will be the odds favorite in this division for years to come as long as Joe Burrow is in a Cincinnati uniform. The offense has a ton of playmakers and if the defense can step up, this is a team that will always be in the Super Bowl conversation. You have to assume that with the Ravens putting all their chips in for Lamar Jackson they will refocus the offense around him and make it work. Since winning the Super Bowl over a decade ago, Jon Harbaugh has seemed to skate through but he could be on the hot seat if things don’t change. As for the Browns, Watson could return to form after an offseason with fewer distractions and a chance to learn his teammates a little bit better. It would be unwise to assume they won’t come to play.
Offensive Player to Watch: Kenny Pickett
Pickett is an intriguing prospect who has shown flashes of greatness and also some major concerns during his rookie season. The Steelers opted not to move on from OC Matt Canada who was blamed for a lot of the struggles. If Pickett leads this team back to the playoffs, it would be ground zero for his legend to grow in Pittsburgh.
Defensive Player to Watch: T.J. Watt
Watt’s season was disrupted last year when he tore his pectoral muscle in week one, but this is still one of the very best players in all of football and he is a former Defensive Player of the Year. The Steelers need him at maximum health this season.
I love Joe Burrow and his style of play, and it seems like the Bengals perform with a whole lot of grit. It is hard to bet against them, but this division has very few flaws and any sort of injury could disrupt what happens in this division. Record: 11-6