The 2015 NFL regular season is now over and two AFC North teams have escaped to the playoffs. Those teams are the Bengals and Steelers who will face off this Saturday in Wild Card weekend. But, the two AFC North teams who failed to make the playoffs have a lot going on off-the-field as their season's are now over.
Baltimore Ravens (5-11)
- Ravens' John Harbaugh calls this 'one of the most rewarding seasons'
- Kelechi Osemele and Justin Tucker top Baltimore Ravens' free agents
Ravens will draft sixth and have a great history in top 10
The Ravens learned a lot about themselves this season, and through all their injuries they managed to compete well in most of their games. They found out a few fringe roster spot players could be more valuable than initially thought. I'm looking at you, Kamar Aiken. Most of all though, they have a high draft pick, and the Ravens don't miss on high draft picks. Their last top 10 pick was Terrell Suggs. They've also picked players like Jamal Lewis and Jonathan Ogden in that range. It is safe to say that once Joe Flacco restructures his contract, and the Ravens add a few talented players, they will be back to their winning ways.
Cleveland Browns (3-13)
- Browns confirm Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer have been fired
- Johnny Manziel was in Las Vegas the Day Before the Browns played Pittsburgh
- Johnny Manziel skipped required meeting in Berea Sunday morning, was unreachable
- Browns owner on Johnny Manziel's future: 'We do have the second pick in the draft'
- Browns will hire coach first, GM second; Sashi Brown named Executive VP of Football Operations
Browns should move on from Manziel
It seems like the dramatic conclusion to the Browns season that we've all been waiting for. All that is left is for the participants to take a bow. Seriously though, this circus has gotten out of control, and Johnny Manziel finds himself in the middle of the madness. Manziel's reported actions over the past week seem like the actions of a player who simply wants out. The team hasn't been shy about their willingness to move on either, and because of all of that, it's time to move on from this chapter in Cleveland. The Browns should just give Jerry Jones a phone call and see what exactly they'll get for Manziel. Next come the questions surrounding who will take Manziel's place as the hope for the future. There will be plenty of cries for Robert Griffin III, but as Jimmy Haslam said, "We do have the second pick in the draft." Of course while there are talented quarterbacks coming out of this year's draft, none of them seem to be as impressive as guys like Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota were in the past draft. The best plan might be to search in both free agency and the draft for a quarterback replacement. Why put all your eggs in one basket?
Browns building a rocky foundation
Last time the Browns cleaned house they hired Mike Pettine before they had a general manager, a move that even at the time, was puzzling, and it didn't really work out so well as they managed 10 wins in two seasons. Seven of those wins came in their first 11 games. So it seems even more puzzling now that they plan on going a similar route again. Not only that, but they have given Sashi Brown, formerly the team's general counsel, final say on the roster, which is usually reserved for GMs or head coaches. Conventional thinking says you hire a GM to build your roster. You then work with that GM to find a guy he likes to develop the players he brings in, so that they are on the same page as far as the types of players coming in and how they should fit into the grand scheme of things. But, Haslam has decided to essentially take away most of what a GM is supposed to do. Most GMs will see this too and realize what they're signing up for is to be a scapegoat in Cleveland.
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
- Steelers clinch playoff berth
Steelers vs. Bengals AFC Wild Card game Saturday 8:15 P.M. EST
It had to be the Steelers the Bengals got matched up with
Quite a few Bengals fans were disappointed in seeing the matchup this Saturday in Wild Card weekend will be between the Bengals and Steelers. The disappointment stems from the Bengals missing out on getting a bye week and the Steelers managing to get into the playoffs with a lot of help. But, if you're disappointed because the Bengals have to play the Steelers now, you shouldn't be. When your team is in the playoffs, they're going to face good teams. The Titans weren't about to snatch up the sixth seed, so it became whether or not the Bengals would end up playing the Steelers of Jets. Out of those teams, who would you rather have the Bengals secure their first playoff win in a quarter century against? Which fan base would you rather leave quiet? Is there a chance they'll lose? Of course. Both of these teams are extremely talented, and that is why they're in the playoffs; but have some faith in your team. Believe in something. Believe in these Bengals.