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10 Bold Predictions for the AFC North in 2022

CINCINNATI, OHIO - DECEMBER 26: Joe Mixon #28 of the Cincinnati Bengals against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

 Bold Predictions

The AFC North looks like a two-team race between the Bengals and Ravens. The Browns and Steelers are a mess, especially the browns, who found out last week that they would not have QB Deshaun Watson until week 12. The Steelers are trying to replace Big Ben and their offensive line is in shambles. Make sure you check out our top football betting sites.

10. Tyler Linderbaum will be the top-rated rookie offensive lineman

Pre-draft, Linderbaum’s story seemed to be on a true journey. He was being discussed early in the draft as the next great offensive-lineman prospect. Teams might have to reconsider the rules regarding how high they can draft a center. When measurements were taken, Linderbaum was found to be “undersized”. This made it difficult for people to talk about him. Although he was drafted with the 25th pick, he did not change as a player. Linderbaum received an unbelievable 95.5 PFF grade in college and was subject to nine pressures during his two previous seasons. He’s ready to go in the NFL and surpass all the other linemen drafted before him.

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9. Joe Mixon leads the NFL in rushing yards

Mixon finished third in the league last season in rushing yards with over 1,200 and 13 touchdowns. Mixon averaged just 4.1 yards per run, with 3.1 coming after contact. The Bengals have added three new starters this offseason to their line. Each represents a major upgrade in terms of run blocking, with La’el Collins being one of the most skilled players in this area. Mixon is a true workhorse back, and Cincinnati’s line will make a significant leap in run blocking. He has the potential to challenge anyone for the rushing title.

8. Joe Burrow will still be a top-ten most-sacked QB

Maintaining a good relationship with a quarterback and pass protection is difficult. As bad as Cincinnati’s offensive line was last year, Burrow plays in a way that makes it seem worse than it is. Although Cincinnati’s offensive line has improved this offseason significantly, Burrow will not be able to improve his throw speed or alter a play that could lead to sacks. Instead, Burrow will try to extend plays and keep drives alive. Burrow was the only quarterback to see a greater percentage of pressured plays end in sacks last season than any other quarterback. This is a quarterback-driven data point. Although it might not be a problem, Burrow will have more time than last year but his penchant for holding the ball a little long sometimes will still lead to sacks.

7. Myles Garnett will be awarded the Defensive Player Of The Year

Garrett has been in the running for Defensive Player of the Year for some time now. But this season, he is the one to win it. His pass-rush win rate last year was four percentage points more than T.J. Watt’s pass-rush win rate. Garrett was the edge rusher with the highest pass-rushing grade (PFF 92.7) and has earned at least a 90.0 mark for three consecutive years. To bad for the Browns that this may be there lone bright spot this season.

6. Cleveland’s Oline will not be in the top 10.

The Cleveland offensive line will be protecting the quarterback, who is among the league’s slowest in terms of of average throw time. This is the case with J.C. Tretter, who was a critical cog on the Cleveland offensive line, and Tretter retired. Watson’s ability to evade pressure and offset it when it arrives will not affect the grades of the linemen. So don’t be surprised if Cleveland’s line earns its lowest ranking in several years.

5. In 2021, the Steelers offensive line will be ranked 20+ spots lower in pass-blocking efficiency.

Pittsburgh’s offensive line from last season illustrates the fascinating story of how quarterbacks can impact pass protection. The line was ranked 26th at the end-of-season rankings and 18th in pass protection. They had more pass-blocking efficiency than any other team, but surrendered more sacks that 19 teams. Why? Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball quickest in the NFL’s average throw time. Mitchell Trubisky is a bit more towards the opposite end of the spectrum, but Kenny Pickett may be the best if his college playing carries over to the professional ranks. It is difficult to quantify the impact of pass protection, going from the league’s fastest average throw speed to possibly its slowest. The Steelers could be among the worst in pass-blocking efficiency, even if they don’t play any worse.

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4. George Pickens will be the Steelers leader in receiving

Pickens is a true X-receiver. Pickens has the size, speed and body control to be a great receiver for Pittsburgh. The Steelers have a remarkable track record of not only drafting quality receivers but also keeping those with potential attitude or character issues on the rails. Even Antonio Brown was able to last nine seasons in Pittsburgh before moving through three teams within two years and being kicked out of the league. Pickens will have the most receiving yards for the Steelers this season.

3. Kenny Pickett will not start until the second half of the season

Young quarterbacks have difficulty keeping up with the pace of the NFL game. Although it sounds cliché, it is a truth repeated many times. This manifests itself in many ways, including mistakes and turnovers. But we are most concerned with the average time it takes to throw. Pickett’s average throw time in college was 3.2 seconds, one of the nations slowest. This figure usually rises from college to the rookie NFL season. The average throw times of all the rookies in the first round who started last year were significantly slower than their college seasons. Pickett won’t be able to play behind the Steelers’ offensive lines if his process doesn’t accelerate significantly. It will make it difficult for him to replace Trubisky. Check out all of the top football odds.

2. The Browns will finish last in the North

The Browns are a dysfunctional organization and the signing of a quarterback that everybody figured would be suspended for at least most of the season proves exactly how bad things are in Cleveland. The offensive line will struggle and considering the quarterback issues in Cleveland, there is no way this season ends well for the Browns.

1. The Bengals will win the North

If Joe Burrow stays healthy the Bengals are loaded and will win this division. The Defense is being severely underrated and the offensive line will be better, Joe Mixon is a tremendous running back and look for Chris Evans to have a bigger impact this season. The difference between the Ravens and Bengals is simply the fact that they Bengals have more weapons and the better quarterback.

 

 

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