Former Steelers RB Jerome Bettis Thinks Bengals Are Tops In AFC North

Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis somewhat surprisingly has the Cincinnati Bengals as his selection to win the AFC North in 2013. Bettis said Friday on the Dave Dameshek Football Program he thinks the Steelers are the least improved team in the division this year.

“When you look at this group of teams, I think the one team that improved the most was the Cincinnati Bengals,” said Bettis. “I think the one team that probably didn\’t really improve was the Pittsburgh Steelers. When you look at it, I think Cleveland\’s going to  come on strong. I think Baltimore, they lost a little bit, but I also think they picked up a little bit, so I think they should be a good team. I think their defense is going to take a little drop, but their offense is going to take a step forward.”

Bettis went on to point out the questions he has concerning the Steelers this season and leading the way was his concern about the running game.

“The question mark in the division is the Steelers,” Bettis said. “How will they perform? Will they be able to run the football? Will the defense be able to stay intact? So, they\’ve got some questions that need to be answered, so right now if I had to just step out of my body and give the prediction right now, I\’d say the edge goes to Cincinnati, then Baltimore, then Pittsburgh, then Cleveland.”

Bettis has a fair assessment of the division as several think the Bengals have done enough during the offseason to win the division for the first time since 2009. While the Ravens defense certainly has undergone a lot of change during the offseason, the addition of Elvis Dumervil and Chris Canty could help stabilize things.

Bettis should know, however, that this Steelers offseason really wasn\’t any different than when he was with the team for all of those years. The Steelers are never active in free agency as they choose to re-sign their own free agents instead.

The biggest concern for the Steelers this year is probably the lack of overall depth as the team continues to try to get younger. If the starters, especially on defense, remain healthy and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can play all 16 games, there is no reason to think that the Steelers can\’t compete for the AFC North crown.

  • dgh57

    While I liked the Bengals draft and what they did to improve their offense there is still one thing holding them back and that is a elite QB! They go as far as Andy Dalton takes them. I feel the Steelers win the AFC North because we have that edge in Big Ben!

  • Randy Neff

    So improving is only done in free agency and the draft ? It is yet to be determined who improved the most. Some of the young Bengal players have already stepped up. Will the young Steeler players now do the same ?

  • Matt Searls

    I think dalton has more growing to do but the bengals are doing everything right by spoiling him with weapons. He only has to be so good to get it done

  • VaDave

    I think Bettis’s opinion is fair, agree that both Cincy and Cleveland are both greatly improved over what we’ve seen over the last decade. The deal is, they need to prove it when the games are played, not by talking heads babbling on. Let’s see what we got when the end of December rolls around.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I have the Bengals winning the division but have the Steelers 2nd. I do not think you have to pick the team you played with to win a division if you are a commentator. Good for him for using his own judgement. Although I wish we all could say Pit is the best looking team.

  • dgh57

    Dalton is young and has plenty of upside, and I hope his peak years are still a couple years away. That is if his o-line allows him to reach his potential! He was sacked 46 times last season!

  • Pete

    I have to agree with Bettis because I share his sentiments except I have the Ravens top with Bengals 2nd. To me the Steelers are a question mark. If they get it right and everything works out, they’ll be tough to beat but they will enter the season with so many expectations for new faces to succeed. The steadying influence of veteran leadership is gone.

    The O line is key to the running game. I have complete faith in the backs but we don’t know what we’ll get with this young O line. How well can the Steelers perform without Heath Miller for 4 or 5 games? How well will the LB perform and the front 3 with new faces?

    Youngsters don’t know what it takes to be a champion. It takes the seasoned vets to teach them how. We saw it last year with lack of focus among the younger players. That’s what happens when you make big turnovers in veterans. I think the team is going through a transition and when they come out of it they’ll be a contender again.

    This is without even mentioning injuries which we know will happen. Sorry, I’m not feeling it this year but I hope I’m wrong.

  • cencalsteeler

    I know I sound like a broken record, but…….Good! More motivation!!!!

  • sean mcmartin

    The Steelers have lost too much talent to be a dominate Steelers team,

    I am a fan. But I can see the guys the Steelers kept were not big splash players.

    It’s obvious They have supplied free agency with some big splash players that will help their new teams to more wins.

    Steelers are not going to be a dominate blitzburgh team as in the past.

    too many busts in the draft and letting good draft picks go when they get to pro bowl level.

    Ravens get dumervil, bangals get james harrison,browns get Mingo, Steelers get William gay
    looks like a repeat of 8-8 year.
    This is one year Free Agency had better options