12up Logo12up Logo

Calling Browns AFC North Favorites is Disrespectful to Ravens and Steelers

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens consoles quarterback Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns late in the fourth quarter after Mayfield threw an interception during the Ravens 26-24 win at M&T Bank Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens | Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns turned their reputation around in the span of one calendar year.

General manager John Dorsey entered the fray, drafted quarterback Baker Mayfield and cornerback Denzel Ward in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and it truly paid dividends. After just missing out on the playoffs, Dorsey traded for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and signed defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to bolster both sides of the ball this offseason.

With many touting the Browns as 2019 AFC North Champions, it's time to pump the brakes, and remember the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are in the same division.

The Browns, on paper, have the most stacked roster in the division. Yet, you can't count out the other teams.

Baltimore started off their offseason on a doom and gloom note, losing the likes of Za'Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs. Yet, they rebounded days after the opening of the new league year, signing top safety Earl Thomas and running back Mark Ingram.

As for Pittsburgh, they had a quieter offseason in terms of signings. Linebacker Mark Barron and wide receiver Donte Montcrief were inked to low risk contracts. Not to mention, they were able to rid themselves of major distractions in Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.

If the Browns have one disadvantage, it's their offensive line unit. In order to acquire linebacker Olivier Vernon from the New York Giants, they gave stud right guard Kevin Zeitler in return. As a result, Cleveland's o-line unit is ranked 20th in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.

That is where the Ravens and Steelers hold the advantage. Baltimore is ranked 11th, while Pittsburgh owns the third-best offensive line unit in the league. The Ravens will utilize a rusher's mentality on offense with Ingram and quarterback Lamar Jackson, while the Steelers will have James Conner as their official bell cow back.

While yes, the Cleveland Browns are the sexy pick and may very well win the AFC North this upcoming season, we're just here to tell you to not give them the crown in July, considering the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers own residency in the same division.