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Old 08-03-2003, 03:42 AM   #1
Anthony
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Cool Anthony's 2003 Picks: AFC North

1. CLEVELAND BROWNS (10-6): In a way, William Green is their Chad Pennington even though they don't play the same position, for if Green picks up where he left off halfway through last season and plays like that all year long this time around, great things could be in store for his team; and having Kelly Holcomb at the ready in case anything happens to Tim Couch could give them an important leg up on division rival Pittsburgh, now reduced to turning to Charlie Batch if Tommy Maddox either gets injured or proves to be a flash in the pan. Defense is good enough to keep them in most games, although the situation at linebacker is somewhat unsettled at present; the pick in this division, and beyond that, who knows?

2. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (8-8): Would hate to try and sell insurance to Bill Cowher, seeing how he let Kordell Stewart leave and saw fit not to draft or sign a name replacement via free agency - meaning that if Tommy Maddox was a one-year wonder, this oversight will go down as the off-season's biggest blunder. The Bus could be on the verge of stalling out for the last time, and if both of the above things happen it would leave them mighty weak offensively. And the defense, while still clearly above average, is not quite where it was two years ago when they lost at home to New England in the AFC title game. Speaking of which, NFL history is littered with teams that went into a long, deep decline after suffering a home loss in the conference championship round, and we could very well be witnessing a re-enactment of that same scenario here.

3. CINCINNATI BENGALS (5-11): Be interesting to see how long Marvin Lewis can resist the temptation to start Carson Palmer at quarterback; at least the arrival of Lewis and Palmer has presuaded Corey Dillon to stay put, for now anyway. Defense ranked ninth in the league as recently as two years ago, but went downhill in '02 along with the rest of the team. New faces make them worthy of more attention than usual, but as far as becoming any kind of contending team goes, Karen Carpenter's lyrics ring dead true: It's going to take some time.

4. BALTIMORE RAVENS (4-12): What was Brian Billick thinking on draft day when he traded up in the first round, and mortgaged his No. 1 in '04 in the process, to select a quarterback who completed only 47.8 per cent of his passes in college and was 14-26 as a starter? His once-proud defense is on the skids too - Ray Lewis may be nowhere near 100 per cent in the wake of last year's injury, and DE Michael McCrary's career may be over. Say this for them: They did win a Super Bowl before falling apart - the process of which will enter its ugly latter stages this year; can't recommend.
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Old 08-03-2003, 01:57 PM   #2
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1. Steelers (9-7)
Even though the Steelers are a poor team the AFC North is a terrible division.

2. Cleveland Browns (8-8)
I do like the Browns chances this year and if the Steelers falter they will make the playoffs. My question is about their D. Will it hold?

3. Baltimore Ravens(7-9)
Good coaching will keep this team on course.

4 BENGALS(6-10)
The Bengals are going to start making there move......it won't take effect until next year i'm afraid.
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Old 08-03-2003, 04:09 PM   #3
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Browns 10-6? Hmmm....possible. We need to see how the new LB's will be able to play. Agree that Green is the one who makes or breaks the Browns offense. If Faine can open some holes for him this season the Browns could have their first 1000 + rusher in ages. Don't count out Holcomb as becoming the starting QB and Couch the backup either. It's still up for grabs and Couch needs to prove he can be consistent and not get rattled.
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Old 08-04-2003, 10:24 AM   #4
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I will take Pittsburgh to win this division with their strengths being at WR, linebacker, and against the run. I actually think Pittsburgh will compete for the AFC crown this year with Miami.

Baltimore would take 2nd in the division, and they might just get themselves a wild card slot come the end of the year. They have to be worried about their QB position. They did add Marcus Robinson and Frank Sanders, but I am not sure that makes their wide receiving corps that much better really. I do like Jamal Lewis, Todd Heap, and their defense, but I don't think it is enough to win that division.

While Cleveland can score on offense I do believe, especially with Kelly Holcomb at Qb, I think their defensive struggles this year will outweigh the success of their offense.

Cincy will improve under Lewis, and Chad Jackson will emerge as a very good WR in the NFL. Marvin Lewis you would think would improve that defense, but they lost Spikes to Buffalo, so it should be interesting.

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Old 08-04-2003, 02:32 PM   #5
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I think Anthony is way too pessimistic with Baltimore. Don't forget they have some good talent on offense like Todd Heap and the returning Jamal Lewis. And I think Boller will be pretty good.

1. Steelers 11-5
2. Ravens 9-7
3. Browns 9-7
4. Bengals 5-11
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Old 08-04-2003, 05:47 PM   #6
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The Steelers have Batch as a backup, and they did draft a QB, Brian St. Pierre of Boston College. Even if they drafted Carson Palmer or Byron Leftwich, neither is capable of playing well in the NFL this season, so your idea of drafting a QB in case Maddox is a one-year wonder is unmerited. Batch is no worse than Stewart either, although Batch cries less.

I do agree with you about the Bus, but Zereoue, Fu, and Haynes are a capable backup platoon.

I think the real question mark with the Steelers lies in the secondary. Now the Steelers are trying some defensive system changes to fix a defense that ranked 23rd against the pass last season, but that doesn't convince me of much.

I like the Steelers going at least 9-7, which is a game and a half drop-off from last season. An adequate drop if you think Maddox will do slightly worse and that the defense will continue to struggle against the pass.
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Old 08-04-2003, 06:18 PM   #7
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Browns #1? No way. Steelers are a solid team(in the afc north). You guys are over looking the ravons. This year is going to be the year that there defence is once again recognized. With a healthy ray lewis they will be great. the only thing holding them back is a qb.
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Old 08-11-2003, 05:05 PM   #8
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I've said it before, and I'll say if 9,999 times before the end of December, if the Browns survive September, I'll be shocked. The Bengals will improve. The Steelers stand to slide, and the Ravens win the division on the final week of the season.

Giving up your #1 pick in a season is not the indication of the collapse of the franchise. As it is, Billick may have spent next year's #1 pick on the best bet rookie QB to find his way to the starting role this season. Does that mean the Ravens' O is hurting? No. If they follow the route that got them to the Super Bowl in 2000, the road paved by Jamal Lewis and ably supported by Todd Heap and Kyle Boller (instead of Sharpe and Dilfer), they stand as good as chance as anyone to win the AFC.

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Old 08-11-2003, 05:13 PM   #9
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If, and this is a big IF, the Browns scheme of using these fast LB's so they don't have to go to a Nickle D works out then I don't think you will have a reason to be shocked Dave. The WR's are talented: KJ,Northcutt,Morgan and Davis and add the running game that was there the last half the season they could easily make the playoffs again with whoever in the hell starts for them between Couch and Holcomb.

I'm interested on why you would be shocked if they make it out of September tho? Maybe direct me to a thread you have posted on so you don't have to repeat yourself.
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Old 08-11-2003, 05:55 PM   #10
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I think the IF you refer to is bigger than big. And I have little faith in the Browns' O-line. Throw in the QB battle/reliance on two QBs (Holcomb might be injury prone and Couch cries/responds poorly to criticism) to get the job done, and I just have no faith in them.

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Old 08-26-2003, 11:56 AM   #11
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1. Cleveland
2. Cincinnati
3. Baltimore
4. Pittsburgh
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Old 08-26-2003, 01:43 PM   #12
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1. Pittsburgh
2. Baltimore
3. Cleveland
4. Cincy
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Old 08-26-2003, 03:06 PM   #13
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1. Baltimore
2. Pittsburgh
3. Cleveland
4. Cincinnati
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Old 08-27-2003, 07:43 PM   #14
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Pittsburgh
Cleveland
Baltimore
Cincinatti

How can Tommy Maddox become a one-year wonder? He has a surrounding cast of receivers including WRs Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle El, Plaxico Burress and RB Amos Zereoue out of the backfield. Zereoue is a a good lock at the running back spot winning the starting spot over Jerome Bettis who is a wheel short to keep the Bus rolling. Defensively, the Steelers are still a good unit but must find ways to keep teams from scoring.

Cleveland's Kelly Holcomb is the starter but the QB controversy is still there and with good reason. William Green is good. Quincy Morgan is good. Dennis Northcutt, Andre Davis, Kevin Johnson, and TE Mark Campbell provide a good receiving corps. The defense looks solid enough to compete for more than 9 wins.

Baltimore is not nearly as bad as everyone makes out. While a QB Controversy could be spewing with Chris Redman and Kyle Boller and even the odd-man-out Anthony Wright (former Cowboy that should've stayed!), Jamal Lewis is coming back to the form that he enjoyed during the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl run. The defensive unit still has a few miends to make but overall it is very strong. Billick should have this team back to form.

Cincinatti is improving. But it won't be a one year turnaround. Corey Dillon is the key to this offense no matter how much Bob Bratkowski hates to admit it. Defensively, Marvin Lewis is a mastermind but he'll have to resurrect the defense without Takeo Spikes, the best Bengal defensively on the team.
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