Andy Dalton gave hope to aspiring ginger quarterbacks everywhere with his play in Cincy last year. The 2011 Bengals were like the nerdy girl who gets her braces off, goes to fat camp and comes back for sophomore year hot. Can the Bengals keep from putting that weight back on and stay hot? Tough to say. There’s a lot of competition for prom queen in the NFC North and only one dog.
The Mike Holmgren era Browns are in full rebuilding mode. Poor Colt McCoy was forced into a starting role before his time and after two years of consistent beatings, a void of talent at the skill positions, he’s got the David Carr 1000 yard stare. The fact Cleveland picked up a middle aged rookie QB to take his spot tells us what the Browns’ top brass thinks of his potential. Trent Richardson may want to get Steven Jackson and MJD’s phone numbers- some guys who understand what it means for a running back’s efforts to go in vain.
Pittsburgh and Baltimore are not without their faults. The Steelers brought in Todd Haley, notorious for his indifference to the running game, and failed to reach an agreement with star wideout Mike Wallace. Wallace will get signed, but how much time can he miss with his new OC before it shows? The Steelers have added youth along the offensive line but Big Ben comes into this year with a preexisting shoulder injury. Age has its way with us all and Pittsburgh’s defense is filled with vets. I wouldn’t count this group out, but the Steelers have the look of a team that may struggle with injuries as much as they struggle with their opponents.
Finally, we have the Ravens. The Ravens did the right thing and signed workhorse Ray Rice to a lucrative contract. GM Ozzie Newsome snatched up Jacoby Jones after the Texans released the receiver. He adds another deep threat to pair with Torrey Smith. Along with TE Ed Dickson and Anquan Boldin, Baltimore boasts a well rounded offense. Baltimore has given Flacco the tools for success and in 2012, just as in 2011, the Ravens will go as far as Joe Flacco and his unibrow will take them.