Returning from his ACL tear, quarterback Joe Flacco doesn’t have anyone to throw to until Steve Smith Sr. is 100 percent recovered from his Achilles tear.
The Ravens have a decent offensive line, but they still have a rookie at tackle in Ronnie Stanley, so Justin Forsett might have to create for himself out of the backfield.
The strength of the Ravens has long been the defense, though. Terrell Suggs returned from his Achilles tear this preseason and should be a force again at outside linebacker. Adding Eric Weddle at strong safety helps the Ravens in the post-Ed Reed era, too.
Best player ever: 52 Ray Lewis
The Browns have had the misfortune of playing in the competitive AFC North, but that hasn’t been the cause of all their ills over the years.
At least now the Browns have a quarterback – or a guy who used to play quarterback really well. Robert Griffin III gets his fresh start in Cleveland, and the offense should be fun to watch with Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon (when he returns from suspension) at receiver.
Cleveland has to get better on defense. The Browns were the sixth-worst defense in the league last year, and they won’t win many games giving up 27 points like they averaged last season.
Best player ever: 32 Jim Brown
Is this the year the Bengals break through? We’ve only been asking that question for the past five years.
Cincinnati hits the road block every year in the wild-card round, and last season it had to do it without injured quarterback Andy Dalton.
This isn’t about talent. Cincinnati is loaded on both sides of the ball, and it can be argued that the Bengals have the best starting lineup in all of football.
If they can’t get over the hump in a sixth straight season, it’s time to consider that something cosmic is working against them.
Best player ever: 78 Anthony Munoz
DeAngelo Williams did a great job filling in for Le’Veon Bell last season, and he’ll have to do it again for the first three games of this season.
That shouldn’t be a problem for the Steelers, who still boast Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown in that trio. Pittsburgh won 10 games last season with Big Ben not starting in five.
The Steelers gave up more than 361 yards of offense last year, so if they can get that shored up (hello, defensive backfield), they could be a force in the AFC again.
Best player ever: 75 Joe Greene