1. Cleveland Browns
This is the year they finally overtake the rest of the division and finish on top.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
It could have been worse for them last year, but this is a crucial year for them to turn that page.
3. Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco was traded and the reigns have been handed to Lamar Jackson.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
A change at the helm should have happened two years ago. Regardless, new head coach Zac Taylor has a lot of work to do.
Head Coach: Freddie Kitchens (Running Backs coach)
Key Position: Defense
This side of the ball for the Browns will need to match the output of the offense. Denzel Ward is a sure fire shutdown corner. Myles Garrett is becoming a fierce pass rusher. If the complementary pieces have above average or better seasons, this will be a great year for the Browns.
Key Acquisitions: WR Odell Beckham Jr. (NY Giants), DB Morgan Burnett (Pittsburgh Steelers), OL Eric Kush (Chicago Bears), DL Sheldon Richardson (Minnesota Vikings), WR Taywan Taylor (Tennessee Titans), DL Olivier Vernon (NY Giants)
Key Rookies: CB Greedy Williams, LB Sione Takitaki
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin
Key Position: Offense
It will be interesting to see how the Steelers adjust without Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Two staples that made their names in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger will have to rely more on the ground game with James Conner and look for easy opportunities to get JuJu Smith-Schuster the ball. If his 16 interceptions from last season are cut in half, that will be a huge boost.
Key Acquisitions: LB Mark Barron (LA Rams), WR Donte Moncrief (Jacksonville Jaguars), CB Steven Nelson (Kansas City Chiefs)
Key Rookies: LB Devin Bush
Head Coach: John Harbaugh
Key Position: Quarterback
They’re saying that Lamar Jackson won’t be running as much as he did last year. While he will continue to be an effective runner, he’ll have to be a premier passer if the Ravens want to have consistent success. Having Mark Ingram will keep the opposing defense thinking more about him than Jackson.
Key Acquisitions: RB Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints), LB Pernell McPhee (Washington Redskins), WR Seth Roberts (Oakland Raiders), DB Earl Thomas (Seattle Seahawks)
Key Rookies: WR Marquise Brown
Head Coach: Zac Taylor (LA Rams)
Key Position: Defense
This unit is a far crime from what it used to be. Statistically they were the worst total defense and the worst against the pass. If they don’t get to at least the middle of the pack in those two areas, it won’t matter how good they are on offense.
Key Acquisitions: OL John Miller (Buffalo Bills), CB B.W. Webb (NY Giants)
Key Rookies: OL Jonah Williams