Baltimore Ravens – O/U 8.5 2015: 5-11
The Baltimore Ravens were an injured mess last season, setting the record for most players on IR with 20. Of those 20 were key players for the Ravens such as; Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett, Eugene Monroe, Steve Smith Sr., Terrell Suggs, and Jeremy Zuttah. It is almost impossible to be competitive when five key offensive starters are missing and you aren’t a deep team to start with. Baltimore went out this offseason looking to immediately improve their secondary and pass rush while finding extra protection for Joe Flacco and playmakers at receiver. The Ravens signed Eric Weddle to improve their safety play opposite Ladarius Webb and Weddle’s impact should be felt immediately. The Ravens also signed Mike Wallace to improve their playmaking ability and offer a legitimate deep threat for Flacco. The Ravens drafted Ronnie Stanley sixth overall to replace Eugene Monroe and protect Flacco’s blindside. Stanley will be an immediate starter and has the potential to become a top LT in the league. They added Kamalei Correa and Bronson Kaufusi in the second and third rounds respectively to create more of a pass rush along with Terrell Suggs. The one major loss the Ravens had this offseason was Kelechi Osemele. Osemele was one of the top rated offensive guards according to Pro Football Focus and he will be missed along the offensive line. The Ravens are not a team that is built to win 11 or 12 games because they are just too old at key positions and are going to depend on rookies and other young players to make plays on offense and defense. Even with the addition of Weddle in the secondary, the Ravens will struggle against high powered offenses and have to play the Steelers and Bengals twice a year. Even if the team stays healthy this year, I wouldn’t bank on the offense carrying them to more than 8 wins.
Conclusion: Under 8.5
Cincinnati Bengals – O/U 9.5 2015: 12-4
Despite missing the last three games of the season last year, Andy Dalton (QB) still put career best numbers completing 66.1% of his passes and while only throwing 7 touchdowns with a QBR of 73.1. Dalton fell 2 touchdowns short of his career high in touchdown passes with 25 and had 3,250 yards through the air. The Bengals went into the playoffs last year with AJ McCarron at quarterback and fell to the Steerlers in the Wild Card round after a heartbreaking Jeremy Hill fumble late in the game. The Bengals were a very good team going into the offseason so there weren’t many positions that needed upgrading. When you have a team like the Bengals that are already stacked with talent, you sometimes have to let good players walk because of a lack of cap space. Reggie Nelson is the perfect example of this. Nelson isn’t the league’s best safety but he is a very solid player to have. The Bengals were forced to let him walk. One way the Bengals made up for Nelson leaving was by adding William Jackson III out of Houston in the draft. Jackson joins a talented secondary headlined by Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick. If Jackson is an average player his rookie year, the Bengals should have one of the best secondary’s in the league. The wide receiver group is where we saw the most change this offseason. AJ Green is still one of the top wide receivers in the league and will be for the next 5 or so years. The Bengals lost Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu to the Lions and Falcons respectively. The Bengals replaced them by singing Brandon LaFell in free agency and drafting Tyler Boyd out of Pittsburgh. Two seasons ago LaFell had 74 receptions for 953 yards and 7 touchdowns. Being on a pass heavy offense with the Bengals that likes to stretch the field should allow him ample opportunities to reach those same numbers. Boyd won’t impress anyone with blazing speed but he is a good route runner and the Bengals plan to use him as a versatile offensive weapon. This team lost a few key contributors in free agency but has drafted well and made smart signings over the past few years to withstand an offseason such as this. Add in their top two picks in Aprils draft and they’re ready to win 11 games this season.
Conclusion: Over 9.5
Cleveland Browns – O/U 4.5 2015: 3-13
What an offseason for the Cleveland Browns. After winning three games in 2015, the Browns failed to bring in any big name free agents this offseason to improve a very below average roster. The Browns also decided to hire Paul DePodesta as the teams new Chief Strategy Officer and incorporate top level analytics into player personnel decisions. The Browns lacked much punch on offense ranking 25th in Offensive YPG with 331.9. The Browns didn’t do themselves any favors this offseason by letting Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz walk in free agency. The one thing the Browns did do well this offseason is trading the second overall pick in the draft to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Browns roster is in such disarray that there was no reason for them to draft a QB and put him in this type of situation with no chance of success. They got a kings ransom to trade down to the eighth pick in the draft where they drafted Corey Coleman out of Baylor. Coleman had 1,363 yards receiving and scored 20 touchdowns. Coleman take some time to adjust to the NFL, as most rookies out of spread offenses do, but he will make an impact from Day 1. The Browns signed RGIII after he was released by the Redskins and he should be an upgrade over Austin Davis (QB) and Josh McCown. The Browns will look to run the ball more this year with Isaiah Crowell (RB) leading the attack but look for Duke Johnson to play a larger role in the running and passing game this year. On defense the Browns lost both safeties, Donte Whitener and Tashaun Gipson and brought in Rahim Moore from Houston to replace them. The Browns drafted Emmanuel Ogbah from Oklahoma State and Carl Nassib from Penn State. The consensus is that Barkevious Mingo will be out of Cleveland after this season with Ogbah taking his place. The Browns are lacking talent all over the field and there will be some extremely ugly losses while all these young players start to develop. The key for them this season is to see progression throughout the year while looking towards building this team through the draft. I wouldn’t expect more than 4 wins for the Browns this season.
Conclusion: Under 4.5
Pittsburgh Steelers – O/U 10.5 2015: 10-6
Is it possible for Antonio Brown to get better? That’s a question that has a lot of people thinking. At first reaction you’d think no way. Over the past three seasons Brown has averaged 125 receptions, 1,677 yards and 10 touchdowns. There are only two receivers in the league that you can argue are better than Brown (Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr.) Add in a healthy Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers picked up versatile tight end Ladarius Green in free agency, it is easy to see why some are picking the Steelers to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Martavis Bryant will miss the year because of another violation of the league’s substance abuse policy but the addition of Bell and Green to this offense more than make up for his lost production. The Steelers lost Kelvin Beachum in free agency to the Jaguars but have a capable replacement in Alejandro Villanueva. On defense the Steelers are pretty much the same across the board except for first round draft pick Artie Burns out of Miami. Burns is a quick (4.46 40) corner with good size (6’0”) who some say is a bit raw with his technique. Practicing everyday against the Big Ben to Antonio Brown connection should help Burns progress at a faster pace. Don’t look for Burns to make an immediate impact on this defense but he will get his fair share of snaps. The Steelers lost in the divisional round to the Broncos in the AFC Divisional round last year and had trouble getting their offense going with Fitzgerald Toussaint taking the majority of the carries out of the backfield. With Le’Veon Bell back the Broncos should be better balanced on offense when facing top level defenses. If they can avoid the injury bug to star players, look for them to win 11 games this season.
Conclusion: Over 10.5