As has been the case for much of the past decade, the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens will combine to form one of the best divisions in football in 2015.
That holds true in the new Madden NFL 16 game, the latest edition of EA Sports' popular video game franchise. However, the team at the top is a bit surprising as Baltimore earned an 85 rating, one point ahead of the Bengals and Steelers who both have ratings of 84.
Here's a look at how the guys at EA rated the division and its best players:
|Baltimore Ravens||85||Marshal Yanda (98 overall), ROLB Terrell Suggs (93), MLB Daryl Smith (90), LG Kelechi Osemele (90)|
|Cincinnati Bengals||84||LT Andrew Whitworth (95), WR A.J. Green (92), DT Geno Atkins (89), RG Kevin Zeitler (89)|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||84||WR Antonio Brown (97), QB Ben Roethlisberger (95), RB Le'Veon Bell (94), LE Cameron Heyward (88)|
|Cleveland Browns||75||LT Joe Thomas (95) MLB Karlos Dansby (90), CB Joe Haden (90), SS Donte Whitner (90)|
Any ranking of the AFC North that has Antonio Brown, Andrew Whitworth, Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, Joe Haden, and Terrell Suggs among the top-rated players is fine by me.
"Hue Jackson wants to run the ball with HB Jeremy Hill (86 OVR) behind a good offensive line featuring LT Andrew Whitworth (95 OVR) and RG Kevin Zeitler (89 OVR). A. J. Green (92 OVR) leads a WR corps that includes Mohamed Sanu (79 OVR) and Marvin Jones (78 OVR). Tyler Eifert (81 OVR) will step in as #1 TE following the departure of Jermaine Gresham.
DT Geno Atkins (89 OVR) anchors the defensive line, alongside LE Carlos Dunlap (88 OVR) and RE Michael Johnson (81 OVR). Vontaze Burfict (86 OVR) and Rey Maualuga (83 OVR) are solid at linebacker. Dre Kirkpatrick (77 OVR) can make an impact as the slot CB."
- EA Sports
I love how, even with the appeal of skill players like Green, Brown, and Bell, it's the big uglies getting most of the love in terms of the division's top players. Yanda came in at No. 1 with a 98-overall rating, and deservedly so after being Pro Football Focus' No. 5 player in 2014.
Whitworth and Thomas aren't far behind with each earning a 95 rating, though Whit got the slight edge to make Madden's top five overall offensive linemen.
I also like seeing guys like Zeitler and Dunlap get good ratings. They don't get a lot of the national praise they deserve for their impact on the Bengals, which could have led to them getting poor ratings in a game like this. For the most part, the guys at EA seemed to give pretty fair ratings to the AFC North.
Disclaimer: I do think it's a travesty that Rey Maualuga (83), and Tyler Eifert (81) have equal or better ratings than Marvin Jones (78) and Michael Johnson (81). Seriously, EA Sports?