ESPN The Magazine: AFC North preview

James Harrison has emerged as a defensive beast in the AFC North. Getty Images

These division previews appear in the Sept. 7 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Projected order of finish

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)

Last year's champs go for lucky No. 7. The linebacker pipeline continues with Lawrence Timmons, and a healthy Rashard Mendenhall will help the run game. But even the best statistical projections can't explain the Steelers' consistency from year to year.

2. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)

The Ravens had the second-most injured defense in the NFL last season, which means they will probably be even better in 2009. Unfortunately, our models suggest the offense will give back last year's gains, even with Derrick Mason back as Joe Flacco's security blanket.

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