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NFL Draft

Record Predictions: Who Will Win AFC North?

  • The Draft Network
  • May 13, 2021
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For about two decades now, the AFC North has been one of the most competitive divisions in football. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are the first two teams that come to most fans' minds, but the Bengals have had their success and playoff berths throughout the past 10 years, too. Though the Cleveland Browns were largely a laughing stock of the league for most of the 2000s, they now boast one of the top rosters in the league, and could even find themselves at the top of the division when it’s all said and done for 2021.

The quarterbacks dominate the previews for these four teams. Lamar Jackson won an MVP two years ago after leading his Ravens to the best record in the NFL, the future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger is giving it perhaps one last ride for 2021, Baker Mayfield holds the keys for the Browns’ playoff race, and 2019’s Heisman Trophy winner and 2020’s No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow is heading into his second season with an upgraded offense.

Given their known opponents, here’s an early win-loss prediction for each team in the AFC North.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Week 1: @ Bills (L)

Week 2: vs. Raiders (L)

Week 3: vs. Bengals (W)

Week 4: @ Packers (W)

Week 5: vs. Broncos (L)

Week 6: vs. Seahawks (L)

Week 7: BYE

Week 8: @ Browns (L)

Week 9: vs. Bears (W)

Week 10: vs. Lions (W)

Week 11: @ Chargers (W)

Week 12: @ Bengals (L)

Week 13: vs. Ravens (W)

Week 14: @ Vikings (L)

Week 15: vs. Titans (W)

Week 16: @ Chiefs (L)

Week 17: vs. Browns (L)

Week 18: @ Ravens (L)

Record Prediction: 7-10

It was a tale of two teams in 2020 for the Steelers, and they started the year off 11-0 and then lost five of their last six, including their first-round playoff game. Roethlisberger, for as impactful as he has been for nearly two decades, really looked like he lost a step last year. When the running game was not on point, Roethlisberger struggled when asked to take over games. The Steelers added running back Najee Harris in the first round of the draft, but lost veterans along their offensive line and it’s hard to believe they’ll be able to survive what is the hardest schedule in the NFL in terms of last year’s win-loss records.

Cleveland Browns

Week 1: @ Chiefs (L)

Week 2: vs. Texans (W)

Week 3: vs. Bears (W)

Week 4: @ Vikings (W)

Week 5: @ Chargers (L)

Week 6: vs. Cardinals (W)

Week 7: vs. Broncos (L)

Week 8: vs. Steelers (W)

Week 9: @ Bengals (L)

Week 10: @ Patriots (W)

Week 11: vs. Lions (W)

Week 12: @ Ravens (L)

Week 13: BYE

Week 14: vs. Ravens (W)

Week 15: vs. Raiders (W)

Week 16: @ Packers (W)

Week 17: @ Steelers (W)

Week 18: vs. Bengals (W)

Record Prediction: 12-5

The Browns enter 2021 with one of the most stacked rosters in the NFL. Entering the offseason they really had just two major needs: edge rusher and cornerback. In free agency, they added Jadeveon Clowney and Takk McKinley on the edge. In the draft, they added Greg Newsome II at cornerback. They bring back one of the best offensive lines in football with one of the top rushing attacks to lean on, led by Nick Chubb. They’ll also get wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. back after he missed most of last season with injury.

People have believed in the Browns before and been burned, but this is a roster to bet on—especially with last year’s Coach of the Year, Kevin Stefanski. They will go as far as their quarterback Baker Mayfield can take them. The heights of that could even be to the AFC Championship Game, and maybe even a Super Bowl appearance. 

Baltimore Ravens

Week 1: @ Raiders (W)

Week 2: vs. Chiefs (L)

Week 3: @ Lions (L)

Week 4: @ Broncos (L)

Week 5: vs. Colts (W)

Week 6: vs. Chargers (W)

Week 7: vs. Bengals (W)

Week 8: BYE

Week 9: vs. Vikings (W)

Week 10: @ Dolphins (L)

Week 11: @ Bears (W)

Week 12: vs. Browns (W)

Week 13: @ Steelers (L)

Week 14: @ Browns (L)

Week 15: vs. Packers (W)

Week 16: @ Bengals (W)

Week 17: vs. Rams (L)

Week 18: vs. Steelers (W)

Record Prediction: 10-7

The Ravens didn’t have as successful of a 2020 campaign when compared to their 2019 year where they really burst onto the scene. I believe the addition of wide receiver Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace will help balance out their passing attack to complement how good they are on the ground—but it might not be right away, as those guys are rookies. On the other side, I think the defense will still be good, but their pass rushers will tell the story of just how good.

The Ravens have a tough schedule, but I still expect something right around 10 wins for them. I expect this to be a playoff team once again.

Cincinnati Bengals

Week 1: vs. Vikings (L)

Week 2: @ Bears (L)

Week 3: @ Steelers (L)

Week 4: vs. Jaguars (W)

Week 5: vs. Packers (L)

Week 6: @ Lions (W)

Week 7: @ Ravens (L)

Week 8: @ Jets (W)

Week 9: vs. Browns (W)

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: @ Raiders (W)

Week 12: vs. Steelers (W)

Week 13: vs. Chargers (L)

Week 14: vs. 49ers (L)

Week 15: @ Broncos (L)

Week 16: vs. Ravens (L)

Week 17: vs. Chiefs (L)

Week 18: @ Browns (L)

Record Prediction: 6-11

I think the Bengals will take another step this next season, hopefully with Burrow as their quarterback for all 17 regular season games. However, this is still a roster that is building and, unfortunately for Cincinnati, they’re in one of the toughest divisions in football. This isn’t a playoff team yet, but it could be an important year for the Bengals’ current regime to tell everyone the arrow is pointing up.

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