Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Afc North

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Afc North

Article excerpt

Byline: Vito Stellino

IN PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

CINCINNATI BENGALS

Coach: Marvin Lewis (56-57-1).

Last season: 10-6, lost to N.Y. Jets in first round of playoffs.

Upside: The Bengals figure to upgrade a passing game that ranked 26th last year with Terrell Owens pairing with Chad Ochocinco. The defense ranked fourth in the league last year.

Downside: The Bengals are noted for underachieving and now they've added T.O. to a team that isn't noted for team chemistry. Can the Bengals avoid beating themselves?

Key acquisitions: They went for offense by signing T.O. and Antonio Bryant and drafting TE Jermaine Gresham in the first round. Bryant was cut and walked away with $8 million in guaranteed money.

Did you know? The Bengals haven't won a playoff game since 1990.

Bottom line: The Bengals would seem to have the pieces in place to win a division title and go deep into the playoffs, but they're often better on paper than they are on the field.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Coach: Mike Tomlin (34-17).

Last season: 9-7.

Upside: LB Troy Polamalu appears to be healthy, and he's the heart of a defense, that ranked fifth last season. QB Ben Roethlisberger will be back for the final 12 games.

Downside: The Steelers are in danger of losing their identity as a running team. They were ninth in passing last year but 19th in rushing. And they have to survive the first four games without Big Ben.

Key acquisitions: They traded for QB Byron Leftwich and CB Bryant McFadden and signed free agents S Will Allen, LB Larry Foote and WR Arnaz Battle.

Did you know? Polamalu tied for the team lead in interceptions with three, though he played in just five games.

Bottom line: The Steelers continue to be a marquee team with five prime-time games on their schedule. But they're no longer a dominant team and could miss the playoffs again if they don't improve their 2-4 division record of a year ago.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Coach: John Harbaugh (23-14). …

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