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.