10: Cleveland Browns Sneak Into Top 10 In Updated AFC Power Rankings
The Deshaun Watson blockbuster trade defined much of the past 12 months in Cleveland. From the impending suspension to the unspectacular player when he returned, the narrative constantly swirled around the locker room. Now, free from the heat of the previous season, the Browns are ready to make good on their promise to the fans.
General manager Andrew Berry balled out in free agency and at the 2023 NFL Draft. He traded for Elijah Moore and drafted Cedric Tillman to upgrade the pass-catching corps. Dawand Jones and Luke Wypler, a couple of in-state products, both have starting potential on Sundays, and both were selected on Day 3 of the draft.
Two former Vikings came over to revitalize the defensive line, with Dalvin Tomlinson and Za’Darius Smith giving Myles Garrett legitimate help for the first time in his career. Add in Siaki Ika and Isaiah McGuire from the draft, and the Cleveland front seven is largely unrecognizable.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski enters a make-it-or-break-it year. His seat isn’t particularly hot at the moment, but another missed postseason will make it difficult to justify keeping him around. The Browns pushed all their chips in on Watson; now they will either reap the reward or remain in quarterback purgatory.
9: Pittsburgh Steelers Can Rise Up AFC Power Rankings With Improved Health
As a noted Kenny Pickett detractor, I must say, I am buying the Steelers as a playoff contender in 2023. General manager Omar Khan has completely rebuilt the offensive line over the past two offseasons, bringing in the likes of James Daniels, Isaac Seumalo, Mason Cole, and Broderick Jones… all of whom are in line to start Week 1.
The defense will be improved as a unit, with most of their key additions coming from the 2023 NFL Draft. Keeanu Benton, Nick Herbig, and Joey Porter Jr. will all have crucial roles as rookies. T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cameron Heyward welcome fellow veterans Patrick Peterson and Larry Ogunjobi to the Steel City, as well.
Not to mention, Mike Tomlin has never had a losing record in his 16 years as a head coach. The streak will continue this coming season as the Steelers should finish with 9-10 wins and remain in playoff contention down to the final week. Who knows? If Pickett takes a second-year leap, Pittsburgh could find itself as a top contender in the AFC.