Our AFC North reporters agree on which team will produce the division MVP, but they differ on the player.
Jeremy Fowler, Pittsburgh Steelers reporter: Ben Roethlisberger. This is a predictable choice, and though playmakers such as A.J. Green and Joe Flacco might make compelling cases, no player in the division is positioned for success quite like Big Ben. An already loaded offense gets receiver Martavis Bryant back from suspension and adds second-round pick JuJu Smith-Schuster. Roethlisberger has been sacked 37 times in two seasons behind a solid offensive line, easily the best clip of his career. Plus, Pittsburgh should have its best defense in a half-decade after investing several high draft picks on that side of the ball. If Roethlisberger avoids major injury, he might challenge his 4,952-yard, 32-touchdown performance in 2014.
Jamison Hensley, Baltimore Ravens reporter: Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell. He has been so dominant that he has a chance to be the first running back since Adrian Peterson in 2012 to win the NFL MVP award, much less the MVP of the AFC North. From Weeks 4 to 16 (Bell was suspended the first three games and held out of the regular-season finale), he led the league with 1,884 yards from scrimmage. That was 189 more yards than anyone else in the NFL in that stretch. There is some concern that a lengthy holdout over the franchise tag could impact his season, but given that he is playing for a long-term deal, this can serve as motivation for another special season.
Pat McManamon, Cleveland Browns reporter: Bell. Roethlisberger is the heart of the Steelers and the best quarterback in the division. But the Steelers with Roethlisberger and Bell are a unique offense that presents serious challenges. Without Bell, the Steelers are not the same team. Bell is that good. Last season, he averaged 157 yards per game rushing and receiving, the third-best total by a running back in NFL history. Bell adeptly finds openings on running plays, and he catches passes like a receiver. He needs to stay healthy -- he has missed all or part of playoff games in each of the past three seasons -- and the danger with him is that he is so good that he is exposed to injury often. But talent such as Bell's does not come along often. His value to the Steelers is immense.
Katherine Terrell, Cincinnati Bengals reporter: Antonio Brown. It's a toss-up here as to whether Brown or Bell should get this nod. Bell's offseason surgery and looming contract dispute could muddle his season. Brown, who has his own contract extension behind him, is poised to be a vital part of the Steelers' offense for the long term. With the return of Bryant, defenses might not be able to key in on him as much. But don't count out a healthy Green. With rookie John Ross now in the Bengals' lineup, defenses will have to figure out how to cover the speedy rookie receiver, which could lead to a lot of opportunities for Green to exploit matchups.