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Five Things We Learned in Week One of the NFL Season

The NFL season has officially begun, and football is back in full force with week one in the books. As it is every year, the first weekend back wasn’t without surprises and chaos causing turmoil among fanbases and analysts alike. With 17 more weeks of regular season football left ahead, there is still a lot to be determined with every team. However, we can look back at this week one and learn a little bit about each team after their first game that can help show us how their season may turn out. Here are five things that we learned from the NFL’s opening kickoff weekend.

What We Learned #1

Detroit’s Running Back Room Is More Of A Committee Than We Thought

Detroit picked up a huge win at Arrowhead in Kansas City Thursday night. Jared Goff had a turnover-free game, Amon-Ra St.Brown continued to show he is a budding star at the receiver position, and the defense held a Patrick Mahomes offense to 20 points. One interesting stat that had a lot of fantasy owners confused was the running back snap count total.

Jahmyr Gibbs, who the Lions took inside the top half of the first round in the 2023 NFL draft, was super explosive in his debut, but he only saw 19 of the 70 offensive snaps. Meanwhile, free agent acquisition David Montgomery, who came over from the Chicago Bears, saw 55 of those 70 offensive snaps in the season debut.

This could be simply because Dan Campbell and the Lions coaching staff want to slowly get Gibbs acclimated to the NFL and to the offense, but Detroit also clearly has great trust in the veteran Montgomery to run this offense effectively. Gibbs will become more involved as the season progresses, but for now the Lions could be leaning on Montgomery to take the bulk of the workload.

What We Learned #2:

Deshaun Watson Is Still Rusty

The main takeaway across this entire game is that the Cincinnati Bengals are in trouble. Joe Burrow and company played their worst game together as a group, and everything is falling apart. R-E-L-A-X as Aaron Rodgers would say, the Bengals are going to be fine.

The takeaway after this game should be concerning for Browns fans and their offense. In a 24-3 rainy weather game there were a lot of positives for Cleveland, many about their run game and their front seven. But the one concern should be about their quarterback play.

Deshaun Watson went 16-29 for 154 yards, albeit in the rain, but it was clear that he was struggling to make throws all afternoon. Watson had just a 40% completion percentage on non play-action throws and averaged just 2.5 yards on such completions on Sunday, both of which were the worst percentage on such throws among all quarterbacks (minus Aaron Rodgers) over the weekend.

We will see how Watson adjusts in a game where the climate and weather are more favorable — and the expectation is he plays better — but it is definitely something to take note of that Watson was visibly not the player we saw in Houston this past weekend.

What We Learned #3:

Tennessee Needs A New Quarterback

This game was ugly and not a fun one to watch. A game that featured a singular touchdown and EIGHT field goals was easily the least exciting game of the NFL’s opening weekend. If it was not on everybody’s minds before the season, it definitely is now; the Tennessee Titans don’t have a franchise quarterback on their roster.

Ryan Tannehill was a nice story a few seasons ago; leading Tennessee to the playoffs and playing solid football along the way after some rough seasons in Miami. However, the past two seasons were less than stellar for the veteran and already his 2023-2024 campaign is off to a very bad start. Completing less than 50% of his passes and throwing three interceptions, Tannehill struggled to make plays to get the Titans. in the end zone.

With Malik Willis and rookie Will Levis the other quarterbacks on the roster, it would not come as a shock if head coach Mike Vrabel turned to either of the two young men to take over as signal caller at some point during the season, simply to see what the Titans have on their roster. Even with Willis and Levis on the team, the team does not seem sold on either one after they both failed to compete for the starting job in the offseason.

Now, after Tannehill’s performance in week one it is clear as day the Titans do not have a long-term plan at the position.

What We Learned #4:

Miami Is Going To Throw It Around

Seems like an obvious statement right? After a 466-yard performance from Tua Tagovailoa and a 215-yard performance from Tyreek Hill, of course the takeaway is they’re going to throw the ball around. Tua looked like a completely different quarterback this weekend. He looked confident, motivated, and incredibly comfortable and poised, making plays both inside and outside the pocket.

With all three of the AFC’s top teams (Kansas City, Buffalo, and Cincinnati) from a year ago losing in various fashions, Miami looked like the new dominating offense in the AFC. This offense is going to move fast, they’re going to do a lot of creative route concepts, mixed personnel packages and stunts to get both Hill and Jaylen Waddle open in space and let them do what they do best: catch the ball in the open field and take off.

Tougher defensive matchups are ahead, but every team should be put on notice for what is happening in Miami.

What We Learned #5:

It Is Zach Wilson’s Team Once Again

The New York Jets got a huge win Monday Night in their season opener against the Buffalo Bills, causing four turnovers from Josh Allen and walking the game off in an electric way with a punt return touchdown in overtime. But the story of the evening is the biggest story in the NFL: Aaron Rodgers is out for the season with a torn Achilles.

Obviously, it’s devastating news for Jets fans and an organization who, for the first time in 25 years, had high expectations coming into the season because of the off-season acquisition of the man who formerly wore No.12. The fairytale would live just four plays before Jets fans and players hearts dropped as Rodgers would exit the game and the season with an injury.

So now we circle back to the former second overall pick, Zach Wilson, who once again will have to lead this Jets team. Coach Saleh has been very adamant that Wilson is the guy moving forward throughout the season. However adding a quarterback to give depth is not out of the question, especially a veteran who can mentor Wilson during the season with Rodgers now gone for the year.

Expectations for the Jets may have been altered slightly after the loss of their newly beloved QB, but Zach Wilson has the chance to completely change the trajectory of his career this season.

NFL Draft: Browns Day Two Recap

For the Cleveland Browns, day two of the NFL draft was pretty quiet, with just two selections in the third round and no trades. They attacked value with the first selection and attacked a need with the second selection. Overall, it was a fairly successful day two for the Browns. It could have been better, but it was still solid.

74: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee

Cedric Tillman Browns Day Two
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

The Browns add another outside playmaker in Cedric Tillman out of Tennessee. Tillman battled injuries this past season, but he was extremely productive in 2021. In 2022, Tillman had 37 receptions for 417 yards and 3 touchdowns, for 11.3 YPR. However, in 2021 he had 64 catches for 1081 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 16.9 YPR.

If Tillman can stay healthy, he will be a productive outside receiver. Tillman ranked as the 62nd overall player and the 7th ranked receiver according to PFN’s consensus big board.

98: Siaki Ika, iDL, Baylor

Siaki Ika Browns Day Two
Photo Credit: John E. Moore III via Getty Images

With their second pick on day two of the NFL draft, the Browns add a big bodied nose tackle who can be a good asset in run defense for Jim Schwartz’s defense. Ika comes in at 6027, 335lbs. His athleticism does not match up with what the Browns typically take, but the awful performance stopping the run last year may be a cause for this drastic departure from their typical selection.

Ika was the 73rd overall player and the 2nd ranked nose tackle, and the 6th overall defensive tackle according to PFN’s consensus big board.

Day Three Selections

  • Round 4, Pick 111
  • Round 4, Pick 126 (from Minnesota)
  • Round 5, Pick 142 (from L.A. Rams)
  • Round 5, Pick 144
  • Round 6, Pick 190
  • Round 7, Pick 229

With these picks, the Browns have the flexibility to move around on day three, as well as to accrue future capital. The Browns still have needs to fill, but there are a ton of players left that can be contributors to the team.

2023 Browns Mock Draft

The NFL Draft for the Browns starts on day two, where they will finally select at 74 (barring any trades). Cleveland has many positions to fill and will need a great draft to be championship contenders. We took a look at how the draft might play out for them on the five major mock draft simulators. For more coverage like the 2023 Browns Mock Draft, check out atbnetwork.com/nfl-draft/.

2023 Browns Mock Draft: The Draft Network

74: Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia
Darnell Washington 2023 Browns Mock Draft
Photo Credit: Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Darnell Washington is a freak of nature playing tight end. Washington stands at a massive 6065 and 264lbs, and has immense upside both as a receiver and as a blocker. His production is low, but some of that is because he played with the best tight end in college football the past two years in Brock Bowers. Washington will immediately be asked to play in certain personnel groups and will eventually replace Harrison Bryant after his contract expires.

98: Zach Harrison, Edge, Ohio State

Zach Harrison never really put it all together at Ohio State, but he still has the physical tools that you can draft late on day two or on day three to try to develop. He is 6054, 274 lbs with 36 1/4″ arms. He jumped out of the stadium for someone 274 lbs, but struggled in the short shuttle and was just average in the 3-cone drill. Harrison fits a lot of what the Browns are looking for in the position and will help to provide depth there.

111: Henry To’oTo’o, LB, Alabama

Henry To’oTo’o will step in and help provide depth immediately to a depleted Browns linebacker corps. He’s an experienced player with multiple years starting, but still fits the Browns general age thresholds.

126: Jartavius Martin, S, Illinois

Jartavius Quan Martin is a versatile safety from Illinois. Martin can play a variety of spots. He played a majority of his snaps in his career in the slot, but also can play as a free safety, especially in two high coverages. Martin provides versatility to a weak Browns’ safety room.

140: Michael Wilson, WR, Stanford

Michael Wilson has limited production due to numerous injuries over his career at Stanford. Over his last three seasons he has played a combined 15 games. However, his tools make him a worthwhile day three selection.

142: Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane

Tyjae Spears is a bit smaller than the running backs the Browns have rostered currently, but his ability and value at this position have made him a must draft. The Browns have to start preparing for a future without Nick Chubb, and Spears has starting capabilities.

190: Nick Saldiveri, OT, Old Dominion

Saldiveri is a developmental tackle and has been consistently one of the top day three options across multiple mock drafts.

230: Broderic Martin, iDL, Western Kentucky

Broderic Martin is a big-bodied defensive tackle who the Browns could bring in to provide competition, and hopefully earn a spot on the team. He provides much needed size and run-stopping ability for the Browns.

2023 Browns Mock Draft: PFF

Overall Draft Grade: A-

74: Tucker Kraft, TE, South Dakota St
Tucker Kraft - 2022 - Football - South Dakota State University Athletics
Photo Credit: Dave Eggen/Inertia

Tucker Kraft was the last of the group of starting-caliber tight ends (depending on your Luke Schoonmaker opinions), and being able to grab him at 74 would be a massive addition. Kraft is an immensely productive player at the FCS level, and will have time to develop before being asked to be the TE2 in 2024.

PFF Grade: B-

98: Nick Herbig, Edge, Wisconsin

Nick Herbig isn’t a great fit, as he is a bit of a tweener who doesn’t fit the Browns scheme all that well. However, he’s just a good football player that you can’t normally find at pick 98.

PFF Grade: A

Trade: Browns trade 111 and 190 for 100 and 231

PFF Grade: C+

100: Marvin Mims, WR, Oklahoma

Marvin Mims is the last remaining wide receiver from his tier, and dropped due to an abundance of slot-type receivers. He can be an impactful WR4 as a rookie for the Browns.

PFF Grade: A-

126: Nick Saldiveri, OT, Old Dominion

PFF Grade: A-

140: Keondre Coburn, iDL, Texas

Keondre Coburn is not a complete player, but he showed a lot of promise and has the size to be an NFL nose tackle.

PFF Grade: B+

Trade: Browns trade 142 and 231 for 160 and 185

PFF Grade: C+

160: Marte Mapu, LB/S, Sacramento St

Marte Mapu does not fit in the typical age range the Browns look for, but the value was too good to pass up. He is a position change candidate, having played safety in the past, but could move to linebacker for many teams. Mapu did play linebacker at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Senior Bowl.

PFF Grade: A+

185: Keaton Mitchell, RB, East Carolina

PFF Grade: A

229: Chamarri Conner, S, Virginia Tech

PFF Grade: A

2023 Browns Mock Draft: Pro Football Network

Trades (Multiple): Browns trade 74, 190 and 229 for 100, 141, and Dallas’s 2024 3rd
98: Tyler Scott, WR, Cincinnati
Cincinnati v Temple
Photo Credit: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Tyler Scott is a speedy wide receiver out of Cincinnati who can provide the Browns with the vertical spacing that they had hoped to get out of Anthony Schwartz.

100: Moro Ojomo, iDL, Texas

A smaller defensive tackle, Ojomo can still be a productive player. He has length that he uses to his advantage.

111: Owen Pappoe, LB, Auburn

Owen Pappoe is an athletic linebacker who can be a developmental piece for a Browns team that needs difference-makers at the position.

126: Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan

Luke Schoonmaker is a quality tight end who will eventually make a quality TE2. He was not insanely productive before this season, but was in a talented room. Schoonmaker falls outside the typical age markers the Browns have, but they need to bring in a tight end to be TE3 and to eventually take the TE2 role from Harrison Bryant.

140: Jay Ward, S, LSU

Jay Ward is a versatile safety who has played all over the field for LSU. He can play as a nickel or as a deep safety. He has experience in the box, but is not ideally suited for the role.

141: KJ Henry, Edge, Clemson

KJ Henry is an athletic edge defender for the Clemson Tigers who had his best season this past year. Henry falls outside the age restrictions, but at this point in the draft, the Browns may overlook that for Henry’s value.

142: Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas

Roschon Johnson has low tread on the tires, having been Bijan Robinson’s backup. Johnson can compete to be RB2 this season and can be looked at as a potential successor if he works out.

2023 Browns Mock Draft: NFL Mock Draft Database

74: Gervon Dexter, iDL, Florida
Gervon Dexter 2023 Browns Mock Draft
Photo Credit: David Bowie/Gatorcountry

Gervon Dexter did not have the most production at Florida, but there were many contributing factors. Dexter played many more snaps than he should have, due to their lack of depth. He also has been very slow off the ball. If the Browns can help correct these mistakes, he can be a quality defensive tackle.

Trade: Browns trade 98 to Chicago for 103 and 136
103: Jordan Battle, S, Alabama

Jordan Battle can come in an compete for a starting safety spot for the Browns. Although it would be unlikely, Battle has some upside, and would have been considered an early second round selection last year had he come out.

111: Zach Harrison, Edge, Ohio State
Trades (Multiple): Browns trade 126 for 129, Jaguars 2024 5th and two 6ths, and Cowboys 2024 5th
129: Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane

Dorian Williams is an athletic coverage linebacker from Tulane. Adding another piece will hopefully give the Browns a chance to solve the ongoing issues at the position.

Trade: Browns trade 140 for 141 and Las Vegas’s 2024 6th
141: Davis Allen, TE, Clemson

Davis Allen is an experienced tight end who tested well. Allen lacks the typical production you look for, but shows traits worth developing.

142: Nick Saldiveri, OT, Old Dominion
190: Charlie Jones, WR, Purdue

Charlie Jones doesn’t necessarily fit all the requirements the Browns usually look for, especially age. He’s 24 years already, but can be a useful player for the Browns in the slot

229: Nick Broeker, iOL, Ole Miss

Nick Broeker is simply a selection trying to add to the Browns offensive line depth. He has good athletic testing and should be able to compete for a roster spot.

2023 Browns Mock Draft: ESPN

74: Keeanu Benton, iDL, Wisconsin
Senior defensive tackle Keeanu Benton will enter 2023 NFL Draft.
Photo Credit: Dan Sanger/BadgerBlitz.com

Keeanu Benton is just an absolute monster on the interior. He would be amazing value at this selection, and could even be a trade up candidate if the Browns don’t value the rest of the interior defensive line class. Benton is athletically gifted and has produced well, finishing with six sacks this past season.

98: JiAyir Brown, S, Penn State

JiAyir Brown is not necessarily a Browns pick due to his age and only above average athleticism, but he can be a productive box safety for the Browns and adds a unique body to a depleted room. Pairing him with Battle helps upgrade the room significantly.

111: Isaiah McGuire, Edge, Missouri

Isaiah McGuire checks a lot of boxes for the Browns. He is a very athletic player who has a decent history of production and is still just 21 years old.

126: Jordan Battle, S, Alabama
Trade: Browns trade picks 140 and 190 to Giants for Pick 128
128: Zack Kuntz, TE, Old Dominion

Zack Kuntz does not fit the typical age threshold, but he is an athletic freak who the Browns may consider. He was a late bloomer, breaking out after his transfer to Old Dominion, but he was the best value tight end available, and the Browns need a TE3 who can eventually be a TE2.

142: Ricky Stromberg, iOL, Arkansas

Ricky Stromberg is a solid center prospect if the Browns are looking to move off of Nick Harris. He has starter upside and is extremely athletic. Stromberg is personally my favorite day three center prospect.

229: Deuce Vaughn, RB, Kansas State

Deuce Vaughn is an extremely fun running back prospect to take a flyer on. He tested as an above-average athlete but is extremely small. Vaughn has exciting film, but the size is a major concern. A flyer selection at 229 is definitely worth it.

Deion Jones

Deion Jones Saga: Atlanta Falcons Trade Linebacker to Cleveland

After many wondering what the status of Deion Jones would be after completing the four week IR requirement, the Atlanta Falcons have found the solution: a trade. According to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Falcons have dealt him to the Cleveland Browns.

Current terms are unknown, but believed to be an exchange for late round draft compensation. Jones has been with the Falcons since 2016 and was one of the last remaining hold overs from the Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn era.

Jones never seemed to find his footing in Dean Pees’s defense and his contract started to be a point of contention for many fans. While the play of Jones had dipped, he was a certified star during the early days of the Quinn era. He was an interception machine and if not for injuries, his dominance may have continued to reign.

We wish Deion Jones all the best in his new venture with the Browns in the wake of this trade. So let’s remember the good times and watch one of his more memorable interceptions below.

What do you think about the Falcons decision to trade Deion Jones? Let us know in the comments, and follow the entire ATB Falcons crew @falcons_atb on Twitter!

AFC North Preview: Off-season Recap and Predictions

AFC North Preview

The Big Ben and Joe Flacco days are over in the AFC North now, but it is still one of the closest divisions in the NFL. Four teams with elite superstars believe they can win it this year. Let’s take a look at what each team did this offseason, and what to expect from each AFC North team in our final preview before Sunday’s kickoff.

AFC North Preview

4. Cleveland Browns

Key losses – WR Rashard Higgins, CB M.J. Stewart, FB Andy Janovich, WR Jarvis Landry, TE Austin Hooper, C J.C. Tretter, QB Baker Mayfield, QB Case Keenum, LB Mack Wilson

Key additions – WR Jakeem Grant, QB Jacoby Brissett, QB Deshaun Watson, DT Taven Bryan, P Corey Bojorquez, C Ethan Pocic, WR Amari Cooper, DE Chase Winovich, CB Martin Emerson, LB Alex Wright, WR David Bell, K Cade York

Re-signed – DE Jadeveon Clowney (1-year), S Ronnie Harrison (1-year). RB D’Ernest Johnson (1-year), LB Anthony Walker Jr. (1-year)

Extensions – TE David Njoku (4-years, $56 million), CB Denzel Ward (5-years, $100 million), QB Deshaun Watson (5-years, $230 million)

Needless to say, it was a rough 2021 for the Browns as they finished 8-9. Even so, this off-season could’ve been even worse. They brought in some talent, but also criticism, by trading for quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson will be suspended for the first 11 games of the season after receiving a huge contract and that could prove to be detrimental.

After a season ranked 18th in the NFL, the Browns offense could get off to a rough start. Due to Watson’s suspension, they will have Jacoby Brissett starting under center. They have a top-tier offensive line, but Brissett’s inability to be a quality starter will hold the offense back. They brought in receiver Amari Cooper to help, but with Donovan Peoples-Jones as your #2, they will be a bottom-tier group.

The line will help in the run game though. With the duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, they should be a top rushing team again. Harrison Bryant is back to try and prove he can be the long-term starter at tight end. This offense will struggle with Brissett, but should be top-ten with Watson.

The defense ranked third last season in total defense and will look to continue to repeat that success. The line has elite defensive end Myles Garrett, but I’m not sold on the other pieces there. Garrett can bolster them to a top-15 group, maximum. They have a nice linebacker room with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah next to Anthony Walker, who should have a good season this year.

Their secondary is very good, with Denzel Ward being a star at cornerback. Greedy Williams and Greg Newsome II played great in coverage last season and could improve. The safety tandem is solid, even after a rough season last year from John Johnson III. This defense could fall from its ranking last season but should still be top-15.


This team would’ve been a playoff contender if it wasn’t for the Watson suspension. Since it happened, I have them finishing 6-11, and 3-3 against the AFC North. A bad start will hinder their chances.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers

Key losses – WR James Washington, ILB Joe Schobert, WR Juju Smith-Schuster, QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Ray-Ray McCloud, OG Trai Turner

Key additions – OG James Daniels, ILB Myles Jack, C Mason Cole, QB Mitchell Trubisky, CB Levi Wallace, WR/ST Gunner Olszewski, S Damontae Kazee, DT Larry Ogunjobi, OL Jesse Davis, LB Malik Reed, QB Kenny Pickett, WR George Pickens, DL Demarvin Leal

Re-signed – CB Ahkello Witherspoon (2-years), S Terrell Edmunds (1-year)

Extensions – WR Diontae Johnson (2-years, $36 million)

Ben Roethlisberger’s last season ended after going 9-7-1, squeaking into the playoffs. They move now to quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett to compete for the job. Head coach Mike Tomlin is back looking to keep his streak alive of not having a losing season. However, it will be tough to do that in a loaded AFC.

Big Ben’s last year was anything but pretty. They finished 23rd in total offense, and they may have gotten worse. Wideout Juju Smith-Schuster left for Kansas City, and we don’t know how good — or not good — Trubisky or Pickett will be. Trubisky is starting week one, but with a bottom-three offensive line, he’ll have a tough time keeping the job.

Najee Harris is looking to improve on his 3.9 yards per carry last season. He showed signs of being a superstar in this league and will need to improve to keep that “future superstar” narrative.

The receiving corps is solid with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. They’re getting help from rookie receiver George Pickens, who has looked good so far. They’ll also have Pat Freiermuth at tight end, and he is looking to prove he can be the long-term option there.

The defense took a step back last season, and I expect them to remain in a similar spot. They ranked 24th in the league, but have one of the best pass rushes in the league. T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward lead the way as some of the NFL’s best at their positions. A top-five line is followed by an improved linebacker room. Bringing in Myles Jack to play alongside Devin Bush could be a real force this season.

The secondary is what hurts the Steelers, and in a pass heavy league, that is not good. Levi Wallace is with Cameron Sutton and Ahkello Witherspoon, which creates a lackluster cornerback group. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds is a great duo at safety, but I’m just not sure they can make up for the cornerbacks.


A new quarterback behind a bad offensive line will lead to a bad offense in 2022, and I believe Mike Tomlin’s streak will end. I have the Steelers going 7-10 after finishing 2-4 against the AFC North. The only chance at the playoffs is their defense carrying them.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

Key losses – OT Riley Reiff, TE C.J. Uzomah, OG Quinton Spain

Key additions – OT La’el Collins, C Ted Karras, TE Hayden Hurst, OG Alex Cappa, S Daxton Hill, CB Cam Taylor-Britt, DL Zachary Carter, C Ted Karras

Re-signed – CB Eli Apple (1-year), DT Josh Tupou (1-year), WR Stanley Morgan (2-years), QB Brandon Allen (1-year), Jessie Bates (Franchise Tag), DT B.J. Hill (3-years)

Extensions – HC Zac Taylor (5-years)

The Bengals reached the Super Bowl last season, and head coach Zac Taylor was rewarded with a 5-year extension. Even after last year’s run, they added more talent to their roster. Yet, they are still not looked at as real contenders. They finished 10-7 last season, so we’ll have to see if they can improve on that.

The offense is almost identical to last season with quarterback Joe Burrow leading the way. They finished 13th in the NFL last season in total offense after a monster season by Ja’Marr Chase. He is the center of one of the top receiving corps in the league. Burrow and Chase have the highest expectations for a QB-WR duo this season.

The offensive line has improved over the years, and is finally top-ten. They spent big there in free agency, and it should pay off. Three big moves in La’el Collins, Ted Karras, and Alex Cappa will help open up holes for running back Joe Mixon. This offense is going to keep getting better as their guys get more experience.

The Bengals finished 18th in total defense after ranking 26th in passing defense. They should still be solid against the run with great linebackers and defensive line. Germaine Pratt and Logan Wilson are looking to build off a strong 2021 as the starting linebackers. The strong season helped lead them to a fifth-ranked finish against the run.

The secondary is much improved with rookie safety Daxton Hill coming in. He will work with and next to an amazing duo of Jessie Bates III and Von Bell. Mike Hilton led the corners, and Chidobe Awuzie showed he can be the #2 in Cincy. Eli Apple has been inconsistent, but provides some help behind Hilton and Awuzie.


The national media isn’t sold on the Bengals, and neither am I. However, they will make the playoffs at 11-6, while going 4-2 against the AFC North. It was a surprise to see a Super Bowl run last year, and I would be surprised again this season.

1. Baltimore Ravens

Key losses – WR Marquise Brown, C Bradley Bozeman, CB Tavon Young, LB Chris Board, S Deshon Elliott, WR Sammy Watkins, CB Anthony Averett, P Sam Koch, OLB Jaylon Ferguson, DC Don Martindale

Key additions – S Marcus Williams, OT Morgan Moses, DT Michael Pierce, RB Mike Davis, CB Kyle Fuller, RB Kenyan Drake, S Kyle Hamilton, C Tyler Linderbaum, OLB David Ojabo, DT Travis Jones, P Jordan Stout

Re-signed – FB Patrick Richard (3-years), ILB Josh Bynes (1-year), DE Calais Campbell (2-years), DE Justin Houston (1-year)

Extensions – K Justin Tucker (4-years, $24 million), HC John Harbaugh (3-years)

It was a tough season for the Ravens last year, as they finished 8-9 and last in the AFC North. It felt like injury after injury for them, but now they are back and healthy. They traded away wideout Marquise Brown, as he wasn’t loving his time in Baltimore. With Lamar healthy and ready to go, they are looking to make it back to the playoffs.

Baltimore ranked sixth in total offense last season behind another great rushing attack. Lamar Jackson is looking to return to MVP form after a battle-filled 2021. Their offensive line has the potential to be great with Ronnie Stanley and Morgan Moses as the starting tackles. This will help the run-heavy Ravens wear down defenses with running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Davis.

The receiver room got weaker with the trade of Brown, but they still have some guys to watch. Rashod Bateman showed flashes of being able to be a #1 WR, but Devin Duvernay and Demarcus Robinson behind him could hold the group back. Tight end Mark Andrews is looking to continue being elite, as he’ll open up the field for Lamar.

The defense struggled last year, ranking 24th in total defense. The secondary should be back to being elite with Marcus Peters coming back from missing all of last season. With one of the best corners in Marlon Humphrey next to him, the cornerbacks are looking like the best group in the league. Marcus Williams joins the safety group alongside rookie Kyle Hamilton to create a scary tandem.

The defensive line is still solid with Calais Campbell and Michael Pierce. I’m waiting for Patrick Queen’s monster season, and it could be this year. The linebacker room is above average with Josh Bynes next to him. This defense is healthy again and should be top-five in the league.


I believe people are forgetting how good Lamar Jackson is. They are contenders, when healthy, and we’re going to be reminded about that this season. I have the Ravens finishing 12-5 after going 2-4 against the AFC North.