Josh Frey’s NFL Standings Prediction: AFC North

So much of sports is about “the first” and “the last”. Any time you can capture the first or last time something happens is an exciting moment as a sports photographer, and this season I captured Bengals rookie Ja’Marr Chase’s first NFL touchdown catch. After a training camp that left a lot of people concerned his transition to the professional game, Chase quickly shut down all of his detractors. ___Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) pulls in a catch on the way to his first NFL career touchdown in the second quarter of the NFL Week One game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. The Bengals led 14-7 at halftime. Minnesota Vikings At Cincinnati Bengals

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the final Sunday without football until February. We’ve made it through the dog days of summer, and now, we have five months of football to look forward to. To celebrate this (and to get caught up because I’ve procrastinated too much) I’ll be posting not one, but two divisions today. We’ve already gone through the AFC and NFC East, and now we get started with the NFL standings predictions for the AFC North. Stay tuned for the NFC North to come out this evening!

[brid autoplay=”true” video=”1089392″ player=”26281″ title=”WATCH%20Was%20Russell%20Wilson's%20extension%20a%20good%20deal%20for%20Denver” duration=”58″ description=”National NFL reporter for FanSided, Matt Verderame, joins Carolyn Manno to discuss the latest NFL headlines. Detailing the recent blockbuster Russell Wilson extension, how it will affect other quarterbacks, plus a preview of the most interesting NFL Week 1 matchups.” uploaddate=”2022-09-03″ thumbnailurl=”” contentUrl=”″ width=”16″ height=”9″]

1. Cincinnati Bengals (12-5)

21. Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals Syndication The Enquirer

There are many skeptics out there regarding the Cincinnati Bengals this year, and much of it surrounds the fact that they lost the Super Bowl last season. Usually, there is a bit of a “Super Bowl hangover” after a team makes the big game and loses, but this Bengals team is different.

Firstly, no one expected them to make the Super Bowl last year, even when they were in the midst of their playoff run. They showed up a year early, and now this is the year with expectations to make a similar run. Secondly, they return all their coaches and coordinators, and especially on the offensive side of the ball, the continuity makes them a continuous threat in the AFC. I think they’ll come away on top with the AFC North title.

2. Baltimore Ravens (11-6)

Aug 27, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) stands on the sidelines durning the first quarter against the Washington Commanders at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

If anything could go wrong for the Ravens, it did go wrong. The injury bug plagued them more than any team other than the New Orleans Saints, and they still managed to win eight games. Now, Lamar Jackson heads into 2022 ready to prove to the organization that he deserves a massive contract, and their defense should be fantastic with additions of Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams in the secondary. This team is in for a big bounce-back in 2022.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-8)

Aug 28, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) passes the ball against the Detroit Lions during the third quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tomlin has never had a losing record in his 16-year coaching career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and I don’t think it starts now. The Steelers still have a strong defense, and of all the QBs in the 2022 NFL Draft, they got the most NFL-ready one in Kenny Pickett. As long has he or Mitch Trubisky can be a game-manager while Najee Harris puts the offense on his back, Pittsburgh should give opponents headaches.

4. Cleveland Browns (4-13)

Aug 27, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) looks on before the game between the Browns and the Chicago Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Deshaun Watson has put a cloud of distraction all around this organization, and Jacoby Brissett simply is not good enough to be a starter for 11 games. I have very little faith that he will be able to win games for the Browns. We must also keep in mind that when Watson makes his season debut in Houston, he will be coming off a year and a half of not playing football.

The schedule doesn’t do them any favors down the stretch of the season either, especially in the final five. They have games at Cincinnati, Washington, and Pittsburgh while their home games are versus Baltimore and New Orleans.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing as well as minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh can often be found training for a marathon, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his takes, NFL and otherwise, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken