NFL Power Rankings: AFC North reaction

I'm happy to announce that I'm a new voter on the NFL power rankings this season. I've joined ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton, ESPN NFL columnist Ashley Fox, NFC West blogger Mike Sando and NFC East blogger Dan Graziano.

Here's how the AFC North teams ranked in the Week 1 power rankings:


ESPN Power Ranking: No. 6

My ranking: No. 6

2011 record: 12-4

Comment: It's hard to really nail down where the Ravens should rank this year. The offensive line is the oldest in the league, three starters in the front seven had to be replaced and the secondary looked vulnerable in the preseason. More will be known about Baltimore after its first three games: home against Cincinnati, at Philadelphia and home against New England.


ESPN Power Ranking: No. 8

My ranking: No. 4

2011 record: 12-4

Comment: I was the only voter who had the Steelers in the top six. As I put in my comment for the power rankings, Ben Roethlisberger has guided the Steelers to the Super Bowl in 2008 and 2010. So, 2012 will be a successful season if the Steelers continue that trend. Pittsburgh can really prove itself with a strong start to a challenging stretch of the schedule. The Steelers play four of their first six games on the road, including a return to Denver, where they lost in the playoffs last season.


ESPN Power Ranking: No. 16

My ranking: No. 11

2011 record: 9-7

Comment: Once again, I had an AFC North team ranked much higher than everyone else. No other voter had the Bengals higher than No. 14. Cincinnati had a strong draft and free-agency period. The offensive line has took some hits as far as injuries, but the Bengals are a better team than last year. I disagree with putting the likes of San Diego and Chicago ahead of Cincinnati.


ESPN Power Ranking: No. 31

My ranking: No. 28

2011 record: 4-12

Comment: The Colts were the only team that the voters placed lower than the Browns. In my poll, I had the Browns ahead of the Colts, Vikings, Rams and Jaguars. The Browns have more talent than last year, but they are very, very young. If the Browns make inexperienced mistakes on offense, like turning the ball over, it could be another long season.