Three AFC North teams avoid Randy Moss

There has to be a sigh of relief coming from several defensive backs in the AFC North. Three division teams caught a break Wednesday as the New England Patriots traded future Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings.


Not only does Moss leave the AFC, but the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns all get to face the Patriots this year without one of the league's best deep threats. New England's next game -- the first this season without Moss -- will be Oct. 17 against Baltimore. It will be a rematch of last season's wild-card victory by the Ravens.

The Patriots also play the Browns on Nov. 7 and the Steelers a week later on Nov. 14. Moss caught five passes for 59 yards in New England's 38-24 win against the Bengals in Week 1.

New England's passing game is not nearly as dynamic without Moss. Wes Welker, Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman now highlight the Patriots' receiving corps.

This trade definitely hurts the Patriots (3-1) in their quest to reach the Super Bowl. The AFC is deep, and the AFC North also has at least two teams --Baltimore (3-1) and Pittsburgh (3-1) -- considered strong title contenders. It could only help teams like the Ravens and Steelers if one playoff contender makes itself less formidable with a huge in-season trade.