The NFL Draft is less than two weeks away. Let's remind ourselves how this past season went. Here is your AFC North 2020 review.
AFC North 2020: Final Standings
Competitively, the AFC North has to be considered one of the best divisions in football a year ago. Three teams made it to the playoffs, with two advancing to the divisional round.
Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
Baltimore Ravens 11-5
Cleveland Browns 11-5
Cincinnati Bengals 4-11-1
Fourth Place: Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals Team Page
The Bengals season will be remembered for the gruesome injury to their top pick, quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow was hit hard in Week 11 and tore both his ACL and MCL on the play. Up to that point, the rookie passer from LSU was on pace to win Rookie of the Year.
In the 10 full games he played, Burrow completed over 65% of his passes for 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. Burrow showed the confidence and arm strength that made him the top pick in the NFL Draft.
The Bengals' downfall was their poor offensive line, certainly at fault in the aforementioned knee injury.
Another rookie, wide receiver Tee Higgins, had a solid first season in Cincinnati. Higgins caught 67 balls for 908 yards and six touchdowns.
The Bengals finished 4-11-1 and have the fifth pick in the upcoming draft.
Third Place: Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns Team Page
The Browns don't mind that they finished third in the AFC North, considering they took down divisional rival Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round.
The Browns' identity was a dynamic run game and strong pass rush. Nick Chubb ran for over 1,000 yards on 5.6 yards per carry to go along with 12 touchdowns.
Fellow rusher Kareem Hunt finished the season with over 1,100 total yards and 11 total touchdowns. Baker Mayfield grew as a quarterback in his third season, throwing just eight interceptions to 26 touchdowns.
Defensive end Myles Garrett, the former top overall pick in the draft, finished the season with 12 sacks in just 14 games. With a strong returning roster, the Browns are well-positioned for another solid season in the AFC North.
Second Place: Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens Team Page
Baltimore and Lamar Jackson fell back to Earth in 2020, but it was still enough for second place in a strong division. Baltimore won their first playoff game over Tennessee, gaining some revenge from 2019, before losing 17-3 to Buffalo.
Not quite his MVP self, Jackson still ran for over 1,000 yards and threw for over 2,700. His 33 total touchdowns keep him as one of the biggest threats in the entire league.
As is their reputation, Baltimore's defense remains well-balanced and one of the NFL's best. The Ravens' biggest need remains at wide receiver. No pass-catcher exceeded 800 yards as the Ravens preferred the rushing attack throughout the year.
First Place: Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers Team Page
Yes, the Steelers won the division, but 2020 will be summed up in one word: disappointment. Pittsburgh started the year 11-0 before dropping four of its last five regular-season games. The Steelers then proceeded to lose to division rival Cleveland 48-37 in the playoffs.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger finished his 17th season with 3,803 yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Despite showing his age, Roethlisberger is returning for another year.
The offense sported a strong trio of receivers that made Roethlisberger's life a bit easier. Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster all finished with over 830 yards and over seven touchdowns. All three will be returning in 2021.
Pittsburgh needs to prioritize a new quarterback and defensive reinforcements, both clear needs if the team hopes to remain competitive.