2022 AFC North preview

Story posted September 7, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Josh Bartosik

Being home to a team that just made the Super Bowl last season, the AFC North is going to be one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL once again.

Speaking of that Super Bowl squad, Cincinnati looks to make it back to the top and officially be crowned champions. The Bengals bolstered their offensive line in the offseason with key additions like La’el Collins and Alex Cappa, finally attempting to protect quarterback Joe Burrow.

Although a young Bengals squad may be chomping at the bit to get back to the Super Bowl, history suggests that may not happen for a very long time. Each of the last 16 quarterbacks to lose in their Super Bowl debut have never made it back to the big game as a starter.

Joe Shiesty will look to change the course of history, but it won’t be easy.

The Baltimore Ravens are the favorites to win the division, and it’s easy to see why. The Ravens struggled with injuries last season, as both running back Gus Edwards and defensive back Marcus Peters spent the entire season on IR.

With both of them potentially back, along with the additions of safety Kyle Hamilton and offensive lineman Tyler Linderbaum in the NFL Draft, the Ravens will be the team to beat in the North — as long as they stay healthy.

The major question surrounding the purple and gold is the future of their star quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson is entering the final year of his contract and is looking for a hefty pay raise, yet the Ravens haven’t budged.

With Baltimore and Jackson swamped in contract controversy, the Pittsburgh Steelers will look to pounce on that and try to steal the division away.

The Steelers may not boast the best lineup in the NFL, but head coach Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season in all 15 years of coaching, and a strong defense will look to continue that streak.

This is a new era of Steeler football, and with the retirement of Big Ben comes a three-way quarterback controversy in the Steel City.

Mitch Trubisky, who spent last season as the Bills backup, has been named the starter for Week 1. If he falters, expect to see first round pick Kenny Pickett audition to be the team’s quarterback of the future.

Rounding out the most violent division in the NFL is the Cleveland Browns. And boy has it been an offseason to remember, or rather to forget, for the Browns. 

Cleveland made the extremely controversial decision to trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson and sign him to a massive contract, despite the many allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

These allegations have led to an 11-game suspension, which seemingly ends the Browns season before it even begins.

With Jacoby Brissett under center until the suspension is lifted, and a team that continues to struggle to find its identity, this year is already looking like another poor performance to add to the Browns long list of failure.

The AFC is a conference loaded with talent, and the AFC North is entering a new era where seemingly anyone could win the division. We’re less than a week away from a new NFL season, and the AFC North is sure to be just as hectic as ever.

Josh Bartosik is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jsb6137@psu.edu.