Heading into the 2016 campaign, Around The NFL is taking a closer look at each division over the course of this week. Which storylines -- and players -- will define the coming months within each of the league's eight sectors? Check out the AFC North entry below.
Most significant changes from 2015
Standing out as perhaps the league's most consistent division over the past half-decade, the AFC North -- beyond a constantly churning Browns franchise -- marches into this season with plenty of familiar faces. The Steelers, Bengals and Ravens all have retained their longtime head coaches and starting quarterbacks. Cleveland, meanwhile, is starting over again with offensive-minded coach Hue Jackson angling to turn Robert Griffin III back into a starting quarterback. The Browns will continue to face growing pains in a division armed with two Super Bowl contenders and a Ravens club that wouldn't shock anyone if it returned to the playoffs.
Pittsburgh's high-ceiling offense will go through 2016 without the services of suspended wideout Martavis Bryant, while all-world running back Le'Veon Bell will serve a three-game ban to start the year. The latter looked good running and cutting in last weekend's long-awaited return to the field. In Cincinnati, losing Hue Jackson as the team's offensive coordinator puts Andy Dalton back in the spotlight. Can he still play at the MVP level he operated at for much of last season? Can Bengals rookie wideout Tyler Boyd make up for the loss of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu? The Ravens have put last year's injury-plagued disaster behind them, but Baltimore's roster can't match what the balanced Steelers and Bengals bring to the table.
One player to watch from each team
Baltimore Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, left tackle. Baltimore must keep Joe Flacco upright this season, which puts plenty of pressure on his rookie blind-side protector to shine right away. While we're on the subject of Flacco assistance ... Can Mike Wallace finally give the Ravens the deep threat they've missed since Torrey Smith exited stage left for San Francisco? We have our doubts.
Cincinnati Bengals: Tyler Boyd, wide receiver. For the Bengals, much of Dalton's success will depend on how two pass catchers -- veteran Brandon LaFell and rookie Boyd -- make up for the loss of Jones and Sanu. This is especially critical with tight end Tyler Eifert (ankle) not expected back until Week 4 at the earliest.
Cleveland Browns: Corey Coleman, wide receiver. The rookie has dazzling potential and could make waves in 2016 alongside Josh Gordon and Terrelle Pryor. Still, there are so many new faces in Cleveland, it's impossible to pick just one. On defense, keep an eye on high-motor pass rusher Carl Nassib, another promising first-year player. The offensive line, though, could be this squad's fierce undoing.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ryan Shazier, inside linebacker. A healthy Steelers offense can still blister teams with yardage and points, but let's focus on defense: Shazier needs to pick up where he left off last season, playing the best football of his young career alongside fellow inside 'backer Lawrence Timmons. With Pittsburgh's secondary still a major question, Shazier is the most important figure on this side of the ball.
What we'll be talking about at season's end
Can someone please start carving Ben Roethlisberger's Hall of Fame bust? After Big Ben dials up his third Super Bowl win since 2004, it will be time to acknowledge Roethlisberger for what he is: One of the finest quarterbacks of our lifetime. The Steelers remain the class of this division and, in 2016, they'll be much more than AFC North champions, thanks to their massive-framed, strong-armed leading man.