Steve Serby previews the AFC North as The Post gives division-by-division breakdowns ahead of the 2020 NFL season.
1. Cleveland Browns
Coach: Kevin Stefanski
2020 record: 11-5
O/U wins: 10.5
Key additions: DE Jadeveon Clowney, S John Johnson, LB Anthony Walker, CB Greg Newsome, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, CB Troy Hill, DT Malik Jackson, DE Takkarist McKinley, NT Andrew Billings
Key losses: DE Olivier Vernon, DT Sheldon Richardson, S Karl Joseph, CB Kevin Johnson, DT Larry Ogunjobi, CB Terrance Mitchell, OT Kendall Lamm, LB B.J. Goodson
First-and-goal: DE Myles Garrett has registered 35.5 sacks across his last 40 starts, and now has Clowney as a bookend. John Johnson is the leader of the secondary. Walker has averaged 107 tackles over his last three seasons. Throw at CB Denzel Ward at your own peril. GM Andrew Berry has built an elite O-line in front of Baker Mayfield, who is on the come and gets Odell Beckham Jr. back healthy to pair with Jarvis Landry. RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are the best backfield tandem in the league.
Fourth-and-long: Stefanski needs more from Austin Hooper and the tight end group. Beckham, who has seven TD catches as a Brown, needs to stay on the field. CB Greedy Williams (shoulder) missed the 2020 season and will be targeted opposite Ward. The linebacking corps is the weak link on defense. PK Cody Parkey (groin) placed on IR makes FGs a concern.
Serby Says: 11-6. Mayfield is money in his contract year.
2. Baltimore Ravens
Coach: John Harbaugh
2020 record: 11-5
O/U wins: 11.5
Key additions: WR Sammy Watkins, WR Rashod Bateman, G Kevin Zeitler, OLB Justin Houston, OT Alejandro Villanueva, OT Ja’Wuan James, WR Rashod Bateman, LB Odafe Oweh, G Ben Cleveland, TE Josh Oliver
Key losses: OLB Matt Judon, Edge Yannick Ngakoue, OT Orlando Brown Jr., WR Willie Snead, RB Mark Ingram, DT Jihad Ward, LS Morgan Cox
First-and-goal: Lamar Jackson still has his naysayers, but his legs terrify defensive coordinators. Bateman and Watkins give Jackson his best group of receivers, for what it’s worth. Streaky WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is a breakout candidate if he can stay healthy. TE Mark Andrews has 17 TD catches over the last two seasons. Elite LT Ronnie Stanley returns from a severe ankle injury that cut his 2020 season short to bolster a rebuilt O-line. DTs Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams are legit run-stuffers. CBs Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are a formidable duo. Nickel Tavon Young is healthy again. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is one of the best. As is PK Justin Tucker.
Fourth-and-long: J.K. Dobbins’ knee injury in the third and final preseason game will haunt Harbaugh and hand the RB reins to Gus Edwards. Houston and OLBs Tyus Bowser and Oweh must fill the pass-rush void with Matt Judon in New England. Left guard is unsettled as Bradley Bozeman moves to center. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman will need a better passing attack in the postseason.
Serby Says: 10-7. Jackson still has his playoff critics, and this is a tough division.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
Coach: Mike Tomlin
2020 record: 12-4
O/U wins: 8.5
Key additions: RB Najee Harris, TE Pat Freiermuth, LB Joe Schobert, OLB Melvin Ingram, G Trai Turner, OT Joe Haeg, QB Dwayne Haskins, LB Miles Killebrew, RB Kalen Ballage, C Kendrick Green
Key losses: OLB Bud Dupree, C Maurkice Pouncey, CB Mike Hilton, RB James Conner, OT Alejandro Villanueva, G David DeCastro, LB Avery Williamson, FS Sean Davis, TE Vance McDonald, G Matt Feiler, CB Steven Nelson.
First-and-goal: Weapons galore with WRs Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool and TEs Eric Ebron and Freiermuth. T.J. Watt leads a talented linebacking corps. Athletic MLB Devin Bush returns from the knee injury that limited his second season to five games. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is a stud. Harris will be a threat on the ground. Cam Heyward is a defensive captain, rugged interior defender and four-time Pro Bowler. Returner Ray-Ray McCloud was a revelation. Continuity in the front office and Tomlin.
Fourth-and-long: What does Big Ben have left? Will he mesh with new offensive coordinator Matt Canada? Rookie Green is the center on a young new OL. PK Chris Boswell missed four PATs last season. Road games against the Bills, Packers and Chiefs and four games against the Browns and Ravens.
Serby Says: 9-8. Big Ben has his moments, but Father Time intercepts him.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
Coach: Zac Taylor
2020 record: 4-11
O/U wins: 6.5
Key additions: DE Trey Hendrickson, CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Mike Hilton, DT Larry Ogunjobi, RT Riley Reiff, WR Ja’Marr Chase, DE Joseph Ossai, CB Eli Apple, S Ricardo Allen, G Jackson Carman
Key losses: DE Carl Lawson, RB Giovani Bernard, WR A.J. Green, WR John Ross, CB William Jackson, CB Mackenzie Alexander, DT Geno Atkins, S Shawn Williams, K Randy Bullock
First-and-goal: Joe Burrow, his torn ACL healed, gets to throw to LSU buddy Chase again, as well as Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. RB Joe Mixon (foot) returns after missing the last 10 games of the 2020 season. Reiff’s experience opposite LT Jonah Williams is a plus. Star FS Jessie Bates III has recorded 320 tackles and nine INTs in his three seasons.
Fourth-and-long: The interior O-line remains a concern. Burrow needs more from his TE room. LBs Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt and Akeem Davis-Gaither have hardly made names for themselves. Kicker is unsettled. Taylor (6-25-1) is on the hot seat.
Serby Says: 7-10. Burrow better be prepared to win some shootouts.