Conference Preview: AFC
4th place: Cleveland Browns
2016 Record: 4-12
Explanation: While the hire of Hue Jackson was largely praised (as it should have been), no team in
the AFC has a bigger hill to climb in 2016 than the Browns. With a roster devoid of many quality players, Jackson and his staff will have to do the best they can to maximize the talent out of their nearly bare roster this upcoming season.
To their credit, it appears that for the first time in years, Cleveland did their best to make responsible decisions in the off-season. Between trading the #2 overall pick to acquire more picks to taking a low-risk/high-reward flier on RGIII, it appears that the Browns are starting to take this pro football thing seriously again.
Whether their “moneyball” approach this off-season pays dividends for them in 2016 remains to
be seen, it’s safe to say that this team will struggle to find many wins this upcoming season. While I don’t expect them to win many games, I will give them more wins than in 2015 and if Jackson can get more time than Browns coaches of the past, then I think he can get them back into competitive shape.
All good things come in time and in the case of the Browns, nothing could be more true. You’ve been waiting long enough, Browns fans.. Why not wait another year(or two)?
3rd Place: Cincinnati Bengals
2016 Record: 8-8
Explanation: Yes, this team has been to the postseason the past 5 years. Yes, they’re the
defending champs in the division. Here’s the problem, though. This is a division known for its toughness and competitive parity. One year, your team is at the top. The next, you’re toast by Christmas.
Regardless of how strong this Bengals team was in 2015, it would have been a difficult challenge for them to repeat as division champs in 2016.
You also have to take in account the people that they lost in the off-season. OC Hue Jackson (to a division rival, no less), your whole receiving core sans AJ Green, a few defensive playmakers, etc…
Add in the uncertainty revolving around Andy Dalton and Tyler Eiffert’s health and well, you’re looking at a team with a lot of question marks.
This could very well be a do or die year for Marvin Lewis and Co. in the Queen city and in typical Marvin Lewis fashion, he’ll fall short when it matters most. This is competitive but not a playoff bound team in 2016.