Continuing with our team previews for the upcoming Madden 18 we turn our attention to the AFC North. The PFL Commissioner SnapDan breaks down the division where he is cold as the Browns form has been for much of the past decade! The division features a powerhouse team, a team that could go either way and 2 teams that must’ve stolen Dan’s stuffed as his analysis has been brutal!
The Ravens are an experienced team, which means you are going to need to do a lot of rebuilding. They have an aging QB on a not so friendly contract. The best players on this team are all approaching or on the wrong side of 30. They should be alright going into season one but if you are not confident in your team building skills they might be one to avoid.
Players to watch – Marlon Humphries, the first round pick should have you set at CB #1 for the franchise which is a hard position to fill. It will also be interesting to see what effect a couple of injury ragged years have had on Breshad Perriman’s stats, his speed though will still make him an important part of your offence. There offensive line may not be the best but you Ronnie Stanley who again will fill a key position in your team for the entire 4 seasons.
Over-Rated Player – Joe Flacco, makes a ridiculous amount of money and is living off one Superbowl glory. His passing will make you pull your hair out and you can’t cut/trade him because of his contract and it will cripple your CAP.
Wrap-Up – The Ravens lost a lot of talent in the off season this year (Timmy Jernigan, Ricky Wagner, Dennis Pitta, Kyle Juszczyk to name a few) and they aren’t getting any younger if this team is taken in the top 20 it will be a definite homer! They don’t have much depth and you are going to need more than 4 years to make them into Madden contenders after the regression kicks in.
Connected Franchse Grade – D
The Bengals should be a fun team to play with this year, you will have a flexible powerful offence (depending on the OL mechanics too!). You have trade bait as they have 3 running backs who could be #1’s elsewhere (Jeremy Hill, Gio Bernard, Joe Mixon). They were not as bad as their record suggested last year, the only part of this team which scares me is the offensive line after losing 2 elite guys (Andrew Whitworth & Kevin Zeitler). The defence especially the linebacker group is good enough to start with and compete with.
Players to watch – John Ross & Joe Mixon, you get 2 should be 1st round picks on this team, one who broke the combine record and one who had it not been for something none football related may have been the first RB selected. You have 2 young stars to get you through the franchise.
Over-Rated Player – Jeremy Hill or Gio Bernard, get one of them if not both out of there and get some value in to strengthen other positions or draft picks.
Wrap-Up – The Bengals are a good place to start if you are picking between the 10-20 spots I wouldn’t be diving in on them in the top 10, but they are definitely better than most for star players. The OL is a concern but players like John Ross, AJ Green, Tyler Eifert and Vontaze Burfict are harder to find than a manageable OL-man on Madden
Connected Franchise Grade – B-
The Browns will be one of the most over picked teams in franchise because of their young team and quantity of draft picks. People picking early (who are picking early for a reason) need to be sure they check out the team chart before diving in then realising the Browns are not very good and there is a reason they were #1 pick in the draft last year!
Players to watch – The OL, it had a massive upgrade in the off season they stole Kevin Zeitler from division rivals the Bengals in FA, added centre Tretter and already have Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio in the building. Any one who loves to run the ball will have an easier time behind this OL. They have some playmakers on defence and Emmanuel Ogbah was a player who slipped under the radar last year but he was a stud (in madden)
Over-Rated Player – The Browns secondary, it has Joe Haden but speed isn’t his strongest asset and everyone knows in Madden you need speed! Calvin Pryor will have a huge downgrade, Jason McCourty was added but the secondary certainly needs an upgrade, you’ll need to fix that or you’ll be hammered every week through the air.
Wrap-Up – The Browns won’t be a bad pick but should not be picked in the top 10 I’d have them in the 15-25 section, they will be a great choice if you love team building but despite some nice flashes on both sides of the ball, depth and extra quality will be needed in almost every position and without trading having much trade bait you risk getting rid of some of the stars to fix the team, unless you ace the draft.
Connected Franchise Grade – C
The king in the north…..The Steelers are the team that rule this division and are one of the best teams in the NFL not just division. They have the 4 B’s who will reign terror on any defence, Ben, Brown, Bell & Bryant. Big Ben won’t last forever but you have some time to XP up the new guy and don’t need to force change in year one. They also have a great offensive line and a young improving defence.
Players to watch – Javon Hargrave, this guy had a great rookie season and did not seem to get much publicity, Madden’s roster update however rewarded him and if he has similar stats to those he finished with you’ve got a big young run stuffing DT for the whole franchise and if you are a 34 guy they aren’t easy to find! JuJu Smith-Schuster will also be interesting to see good depth and WR and possibly trade bait!
Over-Rated Player – William Gay, he’s old, he’s slow do not be fooled by his OVR……get rid and upgrade your starting CBs.
Wrap-Up – The Steelers are stocked with talent and ready to challenge, I didn’t even mention one of the best user LBs on the game Ryan Shaizer, this is a top 5 team in a division surrounded by teams who need a bit of work, get in early and take control early!
Connected Franchise Grade – A
Special Guests Pick! – Charles from @brits_endzone
Steelers – “Big Ben’s Big Arm, Brown and Bryant are quick and elusive. Bell is class. Good O-Line. Defence is sneaky good”.
So there we have it another division in the books from Snap Dan. Some interesting grades here – would love to hear everyones thoughts. What did the Ravens do to deserve such a bad grade that is lower than the Browns!?!? Were the Bengals rated too high/low based on their talent – Will John Ross be this years Perrimann!! – I hope not!
Thanks once again to the guys from Brits in the Endzone for their pick of the division – the Steelers definately have that sneaky good defense and Shazier has to be one of the best MLB in the business and game currently. If you haven’t checked out their podcast before it is a great listen on the way home from work definately recommended – you can catch them Here
For our articles on the other divisions we have capped off so far you can check them out in the links below: