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Preview: AFC North |

Preview: AFC North

The Associated Press
| Sunday, September 4, 2011 12:00 a.m

Pittsburgh Steelers

2010 record: (12-4, tied for first place)

Head coach: Mike Tomlin (43-21)

Stadium: Heinz Field (65,050)

Statistical leaders

Passing: Ben Roethlisberger (240-289 3,200 yards, 17 TDs, 5 INTs)

Rushing: Rashard Mendenhall (324-1,273-13)

Receiving: Mike Wallace (60-1,257-10)

Tackles: Lawrence Timmons (135)

Sacks: James Harrison (10.5)

Interceptions: Troy Polamalu (7)

Top storyline: It’s plain and simple for the Steelers: Super Bowl hangover. The Steelers have everything in place to make another run at the Super Bowl, as they return 20 of 22 starters from last year’s team that went 14-5 and came up one drive short in Super Bowl XLV. Since 1997, only four teams have lost the Super Bowl and gone on to make the playoffs the following year (’98 Packers, ’06 Seahawks, ’09 Cardinals, ’10 Colts).

Baltimore Ravens

2010 record: (12-4, tied for first place)

Head coach: John Harbaugh (32-16)

Stadium: M&T Bank Stadium: (71,008)

Statistical leaders

Passing: Joe Flacco (360-489 3,622 yards, 25 TDs, 10 INTs)

Rushing: Ray Rice (307-1,220-5)

Receiving: Anquan Boldin (64-873-7)

Tackles: Ray Lewis (139)

Sacks: Terrell Suggs (11)

Interceptions: Ed Reed (8)

Top storyline: Can the Ravens beat the Steelers in a meaningful game• Baltimore heads into the season with their arch rivals on their minds. The Steelers kept the Ravens out of the Super Bowl after the 2008 season by defeating them in the AFC championship game and raced back to stun Baltimore in last year’s divisional playoff game. The Ravens let go some of their top veterans, but their biggest concern is at left tackle, where Michael Oher moved to the right side to make room for Bryant McKinnie.

Cincinnati Bengals

2010 Record: (4-12, fourth place)

Head coach: Marvin Lewis (60-67-1)

Stadium: Paul Brown Stadium: (65,535)

Statistical leaders

Passing: Carson Palmer (362-586 3,970 yards, 26 TDs, 20 INTs)

Rushing: Cedric Benson (321-1,111-7)

Receiving: Terrell Owens (72-983-9)

Tackles: Dhani Jones (125)

Sacks: Carlos Dunlap (9.5)

Interceptions: Leon Hall (4)

Top storyline: Cincinnati lost a lot of players in the offseason — Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, Dhani Jones and Jonathan Joseph are gone, and Carson Palmer has stuck to his guns of retiring if he wasn’t traded. The Bengals are forced to go with a rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton and a lot of inexperienced receivers. Cincinnati has a lot of talent on defense with seven former first-round draft choices.

Cleveland Browns

2010 Record: (5-11, third place)

Head coach: Pat Shurmur (first year)

Stadium: Cleveland Browns Stadium: (73,200)

Statistical leaders

Passing: Colt McCoy (135-222 1,576 yards, 6 TDs, 9 INTs)

Rushing: Peyton Hillis (270-1,177-11)

Receiving: Benjamin Watson (68-763-3)

Tackles: T.J. Ward (123)

Sacks: Marcus Bernard (7.5)

Interceptions: Joe Haden (6)

Top storyline: Cleveland brought in a new coach in Pat Shurmur and are switching back to the 4-3 after a couple of years tooling around with the 3-4. The Browns feel they have enough offense to compete with Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis and especially since Shurmur brought the West Coast offensive with him. The question remains if the Cleveland defense will be able to stop anybody.

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