All-time XI, AFC North: Ray Lewis leads stacked Ravens crew

With the 2018 World Cup upon us, Jeremy Bergman and Adam Rank are divvying up the NFL and selecting the top 11 -- or in, yes, FOOTBALL parlance, all-time XI -- players from each of the 32 teams' history. Today, Jeremy Bergman presents the top XI for each team in the AFC North.

Baltimore Ravens

1) Ray Lewis, LB (1996-2012)
2) Ed Reed, S (2002-2012)
3) Jonathan Ogden, OT (1996-2007)
4) Terrell Suggs, LB (2003-present)
5) Joe Flacco, QB (2008-present)
6) Jamal Lewis, RB (2000-06)
7) Haloti Ngata, DT (2006-2014)
8) Marshal Yanda, OT (2007-present)
9) Peter Boulware, LB (1997-2005)
10) Justin Tucker, K (2012-present)
11) Ray Rice, RB (2008-2013)
Coach: John Harbaugh (2008-present)

Baltimore's second NFL franchise has a short but storied history, one that in just 22 years of existence has produced two Super Bowl titles and a litany of turn-of-the-century icons and future Hall of Famers. Ray Lewis is heading to Canton this summer, while Reed isn't far behind him and Ogden is already there. The inclusion of Flacco high on this "elite" list will draw snickers and cheap internet jokes, but he QB'ed the Ravens to a Lombardi and is the only steady, and sometimes special, signal-caller in team history. The order of the back half is interchangeable. #PeopleForget that Jamal Lewis is one of just seven players to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season. The big uglies (Ngata and Yanda) played pivotal roles on Baltimore's 2012 title team. Matt Stover is the team's all-time leading scorer, but Tucker is a pigskin-launching deus, a two-time All-Pro -- and a damn good baritone. Rice's stint with the Ravens and in the NFL was cut short for seriousoff-the-field reasons, but the back burned brightly during his career in Baltimore.

Cincinnati Bengals

1) Anthony Munoz, OT (1980-1992)
2) Ken Anderson, QB (1971-1986)
3) Ken Riley, DB (1969-1983)
4) Chad Johnson, WR (2001-2010)
5) Boomer Esiason, QB (1984-1992; 1997)
6) Tim Krumrie, DT (1983-1994)
7) A.J. Green, WR (2011-present)
8) Isaac Curtis, WR (1973-1984)
9) James Brooks, RB (1984-1991)
10) Corey Dillon, RB (1997-2003)
11) Reggie Williams, LB (1976-1989)
Coach: Paul Brown (1968-1975)

Having earned the reputation of postseason pumpkins, the Bengals best resemble the Dutch national team in their bridesmaid persona -- and their striking orange color scheme. For 50-plus years, the Bengals have roamed the banks of the Ohio River, and yet, they've produced zero Super Bowl titles and only one Hall of Famer: legendary tackle and NINE-TIME ALL-PRO Anthony Munoz, who sits comfortably atop Cincy's all-time XI. Technically, Charlie Joiner (four seasons) and Terrell Owens (one) are in Canton, too, but few remember them wearing stripes. As the only two quarterbacks to lead Cincinnati to the Super Bowl, Anderson and Esiason are sure-fire top-five Bengals. With 65 interceptions to his name, Riley is fifth all-time in picks, ahead of division rival Mel Blount. Ochocinco's sideline and end-zone antics will live on through NFL Films soundbites, but don't let that distract you from his consistent, top-tier mid-aughts production. Right behind Ocho on Cincy's all-time receiving list are Green and Curtis. The soft-spoken Green gets overshadowed by Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham today, but he will go down as one of Cincinnati's great athletes. After that, it gets a little ickey. No, not Woods.

Cleveland Browns

1) Jim Brown, RB (1957-1965)
2) Otto Graham, QB (1946-1955)
3) Lou Groza, OT/K (1946-1967)
4) Marion Motley, FB (1946-1953)
5) Ozzie Newsome, TE (1978-1990)
6) Joe Thomas, OT (2007-2017)
7) Bill Willis, OL/DL (1946-1953)
8) Dick Schafrath, OL (1959-1971)
9) Leroy Kelly, RB (1964-1973)
10) Bernie Kosar, QB (1985-1993)
11) Clay Matthews Sr., LB (1978-1993)
Coach: Paul Brown (1946-1962)

This section is brought to you by the color sepia. In soccer terms, the Browns are like Czechoslovakia and Hungary -- great footballing powers of the post-war era that have since splintered and/or faded into irrelevance. Baker Mayfield and Hue Jackson would have you believe the Browns' best days are ahead of them, but come on ... The Browns were the Patriots of the 1950s, and the bulk of their 15 Hall of Fame players started their careers well before the Cuban Missile Crisis. It's therefore difficult for someone raised at the turn of this century to explain with conviction why the likes of Gene Hickerson and Dante Lavelli just missed the cut. Starting from the top: There's no doubting or debating the greatness of Brown and Graham or their significance to the franchise and to the league. Before and after Brown were Motley, a relic of the AAFC, and Kelly, respectively. From the mid-to-late-1980s Browns teams, who came thisclose thrice to a Super Bowl appearance, Newsome is a no-brainer entry, but the less-acclaimed Kosar and Matthews deserve recognition, too. Thomas, a six-time All-Pro, future Hall of Famer and recent retiree, is the only member of the post-Modell Browns that belongs on this list ... for now.

Pittsburgh Steelers

1) Joe Greene, DT (1969-1981)
2) Franco Harris, RB (1972-1983)
Jack Lambert, LB (1974-1984)
4) Mel Blount, DB (1970-1983)
5) Terry Bradshaw, QB (1970-1983)
6) Ben Roethlisberger, QB (2004-present)
7) Jack Ham, LB (1971-1982)
8) Rod Woodson, DB (1987-1996)
9) Mike Webster, OL (1974-1988)
10) Troy Polamalu, S (2003-2014)
11) Antonio Brown, WR (2010-present)
Coach: Chuck Noll (1969-1991)

The NFL's Steelers are soccer's Germany -- clinical, consistent, ruthless champions. Whittling the long winning history of the Pittsburgh Steelers, flush with 17 Hall of Fame players and six Super Bowl titles, to a list of just 11 legends is a near impossible task. I am bound to upset Steelers fans loyal to Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, or Jerome "The Bus" Bettis, or Pittsburgh original Ernie Stautner, but there's only room for so many Black and Gold busts in this subjective offseason exercise. No Steeler made more Pro Bowls than Greene (10), whose selection in the 1969 NFL Draft signaled the start of -- and sustained -- one of the league's great dynasties. Along with Mean Joe, Harris, Lambert, Blount, Bradshaw, Ham and Webster all won four titles in the 1970s. Big Ben is statistically superior to Bradshaw in nearly every category, but he played in a different era and doesn't have exactly the same Super Bowl pedigree, having gone 2-1 thus far. One more Lombardi, and Roethlisberger might usurp the FOX pregame show analyst. Woodson, Polamalu and Brown have just two titles with the Steelers between them, but they were (are, in Brown's case) household names in their eras and will all go down as top-five all-time talents at their position.

Follow Jeremy Bergman on Twitter @JABergman.

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