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Stripes

General AFC North thread

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Not worried about schedule strength because this year we are going to play with a competent offensive line.

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IMO,  SOS is over rated analysis.   NFL is a closed loop system   Yes there are good and bad teams in a particular season and also an imbalance of divisions but its not a huge difference.      When and where you play is more important,  also scheduling can build in advantages/disadvantages.   Of course, injuries.

Momentum swings within a season are huge. 

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Plus on paper the 2nd-4th place finishers from AFC West, NFC East, and AFC South that is supposed to give Clev, Balt, and Pitt and advantage over the bengals all got better. 

Colts are favored right now.   The NFC East is so up and down year to year who knows?  Cowboys certainly have gotten worse on paper.    The AFC West is whatever it is right now but all those teams are tough.

 

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Strength of schedule is all bullshit.  It depends on who's variables you want to believe more.
Or whose agenda furthers your own narrative maybe.

There were plenty which had the Bengals entering the 2021 with a top 5 hardest schedule to start the season.
While it might not of ended that way, many pointed to that at the start of the season as to why the Bengals would fall short.

Fast forward to this year and it starts all over.
Are we talking about how 2021 ended ??  How the teams look after free agency ??  What about who they get in the draft ??
Oh that's right, that hasn't even happened yet.  I hope no one is suggesting that the draft doesn't matter because they are rookies either.

I'm not suggesting that one approach or another is correct here or that one poster on the board is right or wrong.
I'm AM suggesting that it's all bullshit meant to give people something to write about and fans something to read about in the off season.

I compare it to power rankings which are an equal, heaping pile of horseshit when it comes to figuring out how things shake out.
Don't even bring up how injuries impact the possible outcomes either.

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This whole SOS thing came up during the playoffs, and like I said then, it would be a lot easier to buy the argument that the 2021 Bengals got to the playoffs by beating up on a bunch of bad teams if they had, you know, actually beat up on a bunch of bad teams. They had four (alleged) gimmes last season — the Jets, Bears, Lions and Jags — and proceeded to go 2-2 in those tilts. Much to mine and Army’s loud aggravation.

The truth is that last season’s team made their own road way harder than it should have been. They didn’t get in by beating the crap teams. They got in by beating average and straight-up good opponents that they had to beat because they dropped easy victories in Chicago and New York.

So no, not worried about the schedule next season.

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Burrow, Chase and some others are straight up killers (football wise) on the field and I don't have concerns with what next season brings.
Now... that's not to say they are going to Super Bowl 57 with little thought, but they are certainly capable despite who they play.

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Strength of schedule perspective- in any given NFL year, there are about 5 really bad teams that can’t win more than 3 or 4 games… then there are another 5 teams or so that can’t win more than 6 games.  Predicting who those will be is not easily done if it all.  The team that gets the most of those on its schedule will be criticized for playing “weak opponents”.  No team plays with all the players it started the year with on paper, either.  The team’s strength either rises or falls based on how well those players can be replaced, and most often it falls.

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SOS is a lot less reliable than it used to be.  Seems like lesser teams play better, supposedly better teams play worse, in a lot more abrupt way than it used to happen.  
 

You might think you’ve got some real walkovers on your schedule, then the season shows up and that walkover is stout.  

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About 10 teams saw “Cincinnati” on their schedules last year and projected wins.

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1 hour ago, Stripes said:

About 10 teams saw “Cincinnati” on their schedules last year and projected wins.

I would guess 17 teams saw Cincinnati and all 17 thought win. 

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2 hours ago, COB said:

SOS is a lot less reliable than it used to be.  Seems like lesser teams play better, supposedly better teams play worse, in a lot more abrupt way than it used to happen.  
 

You might think you’ve got some real walkovers on your schedule, then the season shows up and that walkover is stout.  

NFL has been this way forever.  There simply isn't much difference between 6-10 and 10-6 (I guess you have to add a game).   

Then with a 1 and done playoff format, that creates drama and upsets.  Opening  the possibility for lower seeds to advance or at least play close games.   However, I think the 7 seeds in 2 years have been blown out.   You just don't want too many upsets to over write your regular season.  That's what has happened in NCAA Basketball.  

The SOS arguement is for college only, IMO.  It is not like the Bengals can independently schedule the MAC while some other team is playing the SEC.  Then be award on total amount of wins.

 

 

 

 

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I was thinking about the drafts and free agency within the division today, and it occurred to me that the AFC North is becoming a sort of war of philosophies on offense. I don't know if it's deliberate, but we seem to have two primary schools of thought emerging, each reflected by two teams:

Everything we do is about running the ball.

Both Cleveland and Baltimore have experienced almost irrefutable downgrades this offseason in terms of pass-receiving talent. The Browns replaced Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry with solely Amari Cooper, and the Ravens traded away Marquise Brown. Neither team addressed their holes at receiver meaningfully in the draft. The Ravens did add tight end depth, but that doesn't figure to move the needle much when Mark Andrews is already their biggest remaining target barring a Rashod Bateman breakout.

Moreover, both teams drafted running backs this year despite already boasting deep running back groups. The Browns added Jerome Ford (5th round) to what might have already been the deepest group in the league with Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and D'Ernest Johnson. They also obviously brought in Deshaun Watson, a quarterback that adds a strong running dimension. The Ravens added Tyler Badie (6th round) despite already having a high-ceiling duo in J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards (and Lamar Jackson can put up 1,000 yards himself).

Mobile quarterbacks, deep offensive lines, endless stables of running backs, and weak receiving groups -- Baltimore and Cleveland are both taking that approach to its limit.

We're here to throw the ball over your heads.

We already know what the Bengals are and what they can be. They're an admirably balanced outfit with Mixon, but still -- their most lethal offensive potential comes by way of Joe Burrow and one of the league's best group of starting wide receivers. I figure that "let Joe cook" philosophy will be even more pronounced in 2022 with the knee injury further in the past and an MVP-caliber season already in his resume, especially while Chase makes his case as the best receiver in the NFL. The Bengals are going to throw the ball, and they're going to expect to dominate opponents by doing so.

The Steelers look to me like they're trying to build something similar. Najee Harris may become a bigger share of their offense than Mixon is of the Bengals', but the common ground is that they're irrefutably feature backs. The Steelers drafted two receivers this year (George Pickens in the 2nd round and Calvin Austin in the 4th round), which should complement what was already at least a decent group with Dionte Johnson and Chase Claypool. Then, of course, they took Kenny Pickett in the first round -- a guy that has already said that he tries to emulate Joe Burrow as a quarterback. There's some skillset and habitual overlap between the two, primarily in that they are mobile within the pocket and throw accurate balls. Pickett's small hands even recall Joe's two years ago (albeit Pickett's are half an inch smaller). I don't think Pickett is going to be Joe Burrow or even close, but that could be described as his best-case scenario.

Cerebral quarterbacks who are mobile as passers with team-building emphasis on the outside at receiver before the inside on the line and high-emphasis feature backs -- Cincinnati and Pittsburgh both fit this description.

In this way, right now I kind of see Cleveland as a poor-man's Baltimore and Pittsburgh as a poor-man's Cincinnati.

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Cleveland is going to be an interesting watch in my opinion. Dark horse team ?? No not calling for them to have a deep playoff run, but Watson is by far the best QB they’ve had in forever and certainly changes the dynamic.

They have a good o-line and the RB’s already mentioned previously. We will see how it turns out, but it should be intriguing for a change up in Brownsland.

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This is the most awaited NFL season I can remember. At least for AFC fans.

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The NFC is lucky to have the Rams at this point because their is just a shitload of talent in the AFC. Especially at the QB position.

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Just to follow up on Stripes’ observations: I wonder how much is philosophy and how much is inertia. Both the Bengals and Steelers have had good QBs for ages (and yes, Andy was a good QB) and so all their team building efforts have been centered on the passing game. Baltimore has had better QBs than Cleveland, but there’s a reason “Joe Flacco is ELITE” is a punchline and while Jackson is a great player I’m less sure he’s a great QB. And Cleveland…let’s not go there. So all their efforts were forced toward the run and now that’s how the team is built. Changing either scenario would require a lot of tear down and rebuild work.

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21 hours ago, ShulaSteakhouse said:

Meanwhile Mayfield's still looking for a job.  What a clown.  How does he not have his own thread? 

We could have a thread just posting quotes of his old teammates taking veiled, and some not so veiled, shots at him.  Not much of a leader, it seems. 

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Speaking of the other AFC North teams, the Browns draft is the only one I thought was poorer than ours. Have no idea what they did there. Then again, they don’t know either apparently.

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Also, the Ravens did not draft one WR and they have nobody to catch the ball besides Andrews. The Steelers O-line is trash. They did nothing to help that in the draft.

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They drafted good players (in theory). I think that when assessing their draft performance, it needs to come with [minus Marquise Brown] included in the equation.

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Again, I agree with them still having issues which they need to address.  I think it's kind of amusing personally.
Strictly speaking of the players, we will get a first hand look at how some of them do.

Browns:
WR David Bell was once an end of the 1st, middle of the 2nd and he dropped to the 3rd.
DT Perrion Winfrey will be interesting since he fell and we still passed on him.
And that's it for the Browns.  The others are not that interesting to me.

Steelers:
QB Kenny Pickett will be fun to watch even though he's a Steeler.  I think he's their starter.
WR George Pickens is a top end talent with a 2 cent head.  If he's on meds, he will be a good one for them.
DT DeMarvin Leal was another DT that I really liked in the draft as well.
WR Calvin Austin is even an interesting pick that will grow with Pickett.

Ravens:
S Kyle Hamilton falling to #14 because of a slow 40 time is crazy to me.  Didn't want him in Baltimore.
C Tyler Linderbaum will be interesting to watch as well due to the amount of conversation here.
DE David Ojabo was also a top half of the 1st talent.  When he gets healthy, that's a good pick.
DT Travis Jones was part of a couple conversations here as well.
They also took RT Faalele and even though I didn't want him, we will be seeing him play.
Two decent TE prospects in Kolar and Likely should be decent as well for them.

All of that said, yes, they still have issues, but they are no different in that cut downs are coming, trades can still happen and who knows?

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