PFF projects Steelers as top team in AFC, has Bengals in top 5

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) runs a route during the first OTA practice of the year, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
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Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) runs a route during the first OTA practice of the year, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

ProFootballFocus.com released its first 2016 AFC projections today, and two North Divisions teams occupy the top four spots.

The Pittsburgh Steelers in as the top team in the AFC with a projected record of 13-3 while the Cincinnati Bengals are fourth at 11-5.

New England (12-4) ranks No. 2, while Oakland (11-5) is a surprise at No. 3.

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Writing about the Bengals, PFF says:

“The Bengals have spent each of the last four years hovering between 10 and 12 wins, and this year should be no different. They lost a few veteran players over the offseason, but for the most part, they were either underperforming, or defensive backs over the age of 30. The biggest concern is the lack of depth at wide receiver, but it helps when they have A.J. Green and tight end Tyler Eifert, who were both among the top four players at their respective positions. At the positions where they lost players, they have high draft picks in waiting whom they have groomed to take over. While we don’t know if those players will live up to expectations, the Bengals have enough going right for them to expect at least another trip to the playoffs.”

The site’s take on the Steelers is:

“Entering the 2015 season playoffs, the Steelers were the team that no one wanted to face. It took Peyton Manning’s best game of the second half of the season to knock the Steelers out, but the team should be improved in 2016. Le’Veon Bell was the highest-graded running back in the league before he went down with injury, and is likely to be the best next season, as well. At center, they bring back a healthy Maurkice Pouncey, who was a top-five center in 2014, and was replaced by Cody Wallace, who was a bottom-five center in 2015. If the Steelers can just stay healthy, they have the most talent among AFC teams that are likely to be postseason competitors.”

The Cleveland Browns (4-12) rank 15th, just ahead of last-place Miami (4-12).