One prediction for every AFC North team in 2022

 The AFC North, as always will be a competitive division, and as they have been off-season, will be front and centre of a lot of storylines, for better or worse. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are two of the modern NFL's most successful franchises, but after the Bengals surprise run to the Super Bowl, the race for the AFC North title feels particularly wide open and up for grabs. 

Every team has their own major strengths and weaknesses, and with so many decisions to make, this race will be a fun one for fans to watch from the start of the season all the way up to Week 18, where playoff spots and division titles may still be up for grabs. The eventual Super Bowl winner may not come from the AFC North, but with four deep, tough teams, you can bet that someone from this division is going to make a huge impact on the race to the Lombardi in the playoffs. 

Pittsburgh Steelers - Kenny Pickett is a finalist for Offensive Rookie of the Year

The Pittsburgh Steelers are finally having to live with life after Ben Roethlisberger, and after adding young veteran Mitch Trubisky in free agency, the team went and drafted Pitt QB, Kenny Picket at No. 20 in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Pickett was at number 3 on the Steelers first depth chart of the off-season, but with such a high pick comes expectation, and after an impressive start to the pre-season, it's just a matter of time until No. 8 is QB1.

Not only that, but with weapons like Diontae Johnson, Najee Harris, Chase Claypool and the emerging George Pickens, the tools for Pickett to not only step in immediately, but to succeed immediately are all there. There's going to be stiff competition from the likes of Drake London, Breece Hall and Jameson Williams among others, but make no mistake, Kenny will be firmly in the top three come seasons end. 

Cleveland Browns - No DeShaun Watson = No playoffs

The Cleveland Browns made an odd decision this off-season when they traded for Deshaun Watson and gave him an insane amount of guaranteed money, and if the NFL has their way (which they should in this case), he will be missing for at least the entirety of this season. The less said about the situation the better, because it hasn't all played itself out yet, but simply put, if the Browns made all of these moves to become a Super Bowl contender and then lose their star QB, there's just no way this team can make the playoffs in a tough AFC North and a tougher AFC. 

The roster is very good on both sides of the ball, and the Browns should wreak havoc on opposing QB's, but this was once the worst run team in the NFL, and after a few moves, the cracks are beginning to show, so a poor season could lead to a very big off-season for this squad. Ultimately, Watson will one day be back on the field, and when he does, the Browns become a contender, but without him, it's just hard to see them beating out all the other teams in the AFC for one of the three Wild Card spots. 

Baltimore Ravens - Lamar Shines but lack of weapons hinders playoff push

Lamar Jackson is one of the most disrespected players in recent NFL history, but despite all of the criticism sent his way, he remains one of the most electrifying and productive Quarterback's in the game over the past two years. Unfortunately for Lamar, the Ravens haven't surrounded him with a talented wide receiver groups like other teams have done for their young QB's, as outside of Mark Andrews at tight end, this team is desperately in search of talent so that Jackson can play in the pocket, and not always have to be on the move.

Lamar Jackson may go down as the best dual threat QB in history, as he continually shines and amazes crowds with his feet, but if he doesn't have the weapons to stand in the pocket and pick teams apart that way, then his chance of winning in the post season, or even making it that far go drastically down. Unfortunately, with so much talent in the AFC, as good as the Ravens are, this is just going to hurt them too much, and whether they sneak into the final Wild Card spot or just miss out, it's going to be yet another short lived season for what should be a very promising team, and it could mean the end of Lamar Jackson in Baltimore unless he gets a big extension from the team. 

Cincinnati Bengals - Ja'Marr Chase challenges 2021 Cooper Kupp

The Bengals were widely criticized when they drafted Ja'Marr Chase, Joe Burrow's former teammate at LSU instead of getting him some help along the offensive line, and while it ended up costing them dearly in the Super Bowl, the move is clearly paying off, as Chase is on the verge of becoming one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. After a fantastic 2021, the combination with Burrow is only getting better, and with such a great offence, there's no doubting that Chase will take the next step in 2022, and by 2023, will arguably be considered one of the top three receivers in the game.

While he may not reach the receiving Triple Crown (receptions, yards and TD's) like Cooper Kupp did in 2021, Chase is going to certainly challenge that, as he has every tool necessary to be one of the best the league has seen. If he can stay healthy, this offence will carry the Bengals very far yet again, and even if it's not a historic NFL season for Chase, he's going to start breaking all types of Cincinnati records very soon.

Photo Credit: Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK