With the 2020 NFL regular season launching this week, we’re breaking down every division in a digestible fashion. Here’s a rundown of the AFC North.
2019 result: 14-2, 1st place, divisional-round loss
Major additions: RB J.K. Dobbins, edge Calais Campbell, edge Derek Wolfe, LB Patrick Queen
Major losses: G Marshal Yanda, S Earl Thomas, DT Michael Pierce, TE Hayden Hurst
Why they could kick ass: Lamar Jackson is unreal, and they won a league-high 14 games last year. Can they take the next step?
Why they could suck: Jackson is likely to regress with a target on his back, they will miss Yanda, and they have disappointed in back-to-back playoff appearances.
2020 prediction: 11-5, 2nd place, divisional-round loss
2019 result: 2-14, 4th place
Major additions: QB Joe Burrow, WR Tee Higgins, DT D.J. Reader, CB Mackensie Alexander, CB Trae Waynes
Major losses: DT Andrew Billings, TE Tyler Eifert, QB Andy Dalton
Why they could kick ass: Burrow is coming off the best season by a quarterback in college football history, he has a deep receiving corps, and left tackle Jonah Williams should be ready to make an impact after missing his rookie season.
Why they could suck: Burrow, Williams, and Higgins will likely need time as a two-win team takes baby steps following a limited offseason.
2020 prediction: 5-11, 4th place
2019 result: 6-10, third place
Major additions: TE Austin Hooper, OT Jack Conklin, OT Jedrick Willis Jr., LB Jacob Phillips, S Karl Joseph, S Ronnie Harrison, S Andrew Sendejo, DT Andrew Billings
Major losses: LB Joe Schobert, S Eric Murray, LB Christian Kirksey
Why they could kick ass: It’s really hard to find a troubling weak spot now that Conklin and Willis are manning the tackle spots, and they’ve also upgraded the secondary. Baker Mayfield could break out in his third season now that the line is strong and Kevin Stefanski is in charge.
Why they could suck: They’re the Browns, and they always seem to find a way to do so.
2020 prediction: 10-6, 3rd place, wild-card loss
2019 result: 8-8, 2nd place
Major additions: TE Eric Ebron, WR Chase Claypool, RB Anthony McFarland Jr., DT Chris Wormley
Major losses: DT Javon Hargrave, G Ramon Foster
Why they could kick ass: Ben Roethlisberger is back from a season derailed by a September elbow injury, his receiving corps is extremely deep, and his defense is the most opportunistic unit in the NFL. That near-flawless group had a league-high 38 takeaways in 2019.
Why they could suck: Roethlisberger is 38 but looks 48, and he was struggling even before that injury and there’s no telling how he’ll hold up.
2020 prediction: 12-4, 1st place, AFC Championship loss