Baltimore Ravens:

Shane Stewart is the defending AFC champ and a consistent playoff contender. Very knowledgeable of the game and rarely makes mistakes with clock and field management. Takes risks at different points in the game, but not reckless.

Offense

The Ravens have a cerebral offense that often preys on the weaknesses of opposing defenses. It’s not unusual to see Stewart’s Ravens throw for 400 yards in one week and rush for 250 the next. No real superstars on offense, the Ravens typically rely on running back by committee and spreading the ball around it’s receiving corps. All defense should be aware of one name: Brashad Perriman. Not abused, but takes lethal shots down field when defenses fall asleep at the wheel.

Defense

One of the best user defenders in RFL. Elite level run defense that will leave the most veteran ground games frustrated. Switches fronts frequently, shows a lot of coverages, and generates a lot of sacks and negative plays with his blitz schemes. One of the most aggressive defenses in RFL; a handful for players not keen on composure.

Wildcats/X Factors

Logistically, the Ravens typically enjoy a lights out defense with elite level personnel. With aging superstars and a depleted secondary, the Ravens will have to remain creative and aggressive to compensate for potential mismatches outside. If that happens, this is a dangerous team.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Trevor Hudson, a former BFL veteran, returns to RFL after a brief absence. A solid and balanced player with great knowledge of trades and free agency. Hudson makes a lot of smart trades and builds juggernaut ball clubs that fits his scheme.

Offense

The Steelers have the most explosive offense in Madden and compliment Hudson’s balanced philosophy. Steelers are blessed with an elite running back, receiving core, and quarterback. Bell is explosive, Brown is a one on one nightmare. Opposing defenses will be torn in loading the box, but ensuring the back end is protected with ample safety help. Good luck, AFC defenses.

Defense

The Steelers boast some serious speed in the front 7. Cam Heyward is an anchor on the defensive front. Shazier is one of the fastest and most athletic linebackers in the league, will pose a lot of threats to the often favored outside running schemes of several players. Additions of Darren Lee and Leonard Williams is a big improvement to this defense. The secondary, as discussed below, is fast, but lacks experience.

Wildcats/X Factors

Obviously the Steelers are talent rich offensively, the key will be paying them all. With so much star power, Hudson’s team building skills will be tested if he looks to keep his gems. Moving Martavious Bryant and Marcus Wheaton for Darren Lee and Leonard Williams is probably a good move in building young defensive talent. The secondary must improve to exist in the AFC North.

Cincinnati Bengals

Bodriane Jones is a newcomer to RFL and his tendencies are an unknown at this point.

Offense

The Bengals have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Combined with a thunder/lightning backfield of Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard and superstar receiver in AJ Green, Jones has a load of weapons to run a balanced attack.

Defense

The Bengals also have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL; opposing teams need some serious hog power in the trenches when combating the Bengals. A solid linebacker core and secondary compliments the dominant defensive front to compose a top 10 defensive squad.

Wildcards/X Factors

The Bengals are notorious for choking in the bright lights in the actual NFL; absent a personal foul or “lose your composure” button being added, Jones is safe from of the actual Bengals woes. What will be critical is establishing a legitimate receiving compliment to AJ Green. Otherwise, Jones is in a tough division to be one dimensional or relying on one receiver only.

Projected Winner

Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have been king of the North longer than the Stark family. Offensive balance, stout defense, and smart play make the Ravens the RFL preseason pick.