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Rob Weintraub's 2019 All-AFC North Team

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and Cincinnati Bengals DL Carlos Dunlap
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Nearly forty percent of every team's schedule is made up of division games. Every coach and player talks about the importance of winning games against division foes. Schemes and personnel are very often tailored to matching up with division opponents. Yet when it comes to naming the best players at season's end, we never classify them by division. Where are the All-Division teams? This has always mystified me. Colleges name All-Conference teams, why not do likewise for the professional ranks?

Well rest easy, I've done it for you. Today we focus on the AFC North. Naturally, this being Football Outsiders, our stats are used to justify selections whenever necessary.

OFFENSE

QB: Lamar Jackson, BAL

The MVP of the league didn't exactly face much competition for the All-Division team. Lamar finished fifth in DYAR and second in DVOA (behind only Drew Brees) -- and that only factored in his passing. To get a sense of how dominant Jackson's rushing was, the second-place quarterback in rushing DYAR, Kyler Murray (102), was closer to the last-place finisher, Derek Carr (-49), than he was to Jackson (261). Meanwhile, only Zeke Elliott and Christian McCaffrey had more DYAR than Jackson among running backs.

RB: Nick Chubb, CLE
RB: Mark Ingram, BAL

Joe Mixon and Gus Edwards form a pretty darn good second-string backfield, indicating how the run game ruled the division in 2019.

WR: Tyler Boyd, CIN
WR: Odell Beckham, CLE
WR: Jarvis Landry, CLE
TE: Mark Andrews, BAL

Odell and Jarvis may not have been able to live up to the preseason hype, boost a playoff run, or save their coach's or general manager's jobs. But they still make the All-Div squad, a testament as much to the clunky passing attacks in the AFC North as to their talents (though Landry had by far his most effective season). The Ravens had three tight ends with positive DYAR, with Andrews leading the way.

OT: Ronnie Stanley, BAL
OT: Orlando Brown, BAL
OG: Joel Bitonio, CLE
OG: Marshal Yanda, BAL
C: J.C. Tretter, CLE

Bradley Bozeman had an argument to be on the squad at guard, giving the Ravens four of the five starters. But Bitonio had less help from his mates, save Tretter, giving him the infinitesimal edge.

DEFENSE

DE: Carlos Dunlap, CIN
DE: Sam Hubbard, CIN
DT: Geno Atkins, CIN
DT: Cameron Heyward, PIT

Brandon Williams is technically a 3-4 end but plays a little too much interior defense to be considered for an All-Div DE slot. That, along with Myles Garrett's rush of blood to the head, allows for the Bengals to somehow capture three of the four line spots, with the little-known but hard-working Hubbard and the streaky but effective Dunlap snagging the end spots.

OLB: T.J. Watt, PIT
OLB: Matt Judon, BAL
ILB: Devin Bush, PIT
ILB: Joe Schobert, CLE

No Bengals in the linebacker corps, that's for sure. Having Watt outside and Bush inside sets up the Steelers for another generation of superstar linebacker duos.

CB: Marcus Peters, BAL
CB: Denzel Ward, CLE
Slot CB: Marlon Humphrey, BAL
S: Minkah Fitzpatrick, PIT
S: Earl Thomas, BAL

The legendary Thomas, ironically, was the only difficult choice, as he tipped out Jessie Bates and Terrell Edmunds. Humphrey, the best cornerback in the division, covered more slot targets than anyone else in the AFC North. Ward played only 10 games but was seventh among qualifying corners in both yards per pass (5.4) and success rate (65%).

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Justin Tucker, BAL
P: Kevin Huber, CIN
RET: Brandon Wilson/Darius Philips, CIN

The Bengals, amazingly enough, led the league in our special teams rankings, with the kick return combo being a major reason why. Tucker, however, was far and way the NFL's best kicker, once again, though the division as a whole had a superb season between the uprights.

Comments

9 comments, Last at 14 Feb 2020, 11:50pm

1 This team is positively…

This team is positively insane. Sure there are some units not as strong as others, but I could see this unit going undefeated, and easily beating all afc East.

The differences are stark.

6 I didn't watch enough of the…

I didn't watch enough of the other teams, but the Steelers OL was pretty good again this year.  Would have expected to see one or two of them on this list.  Not like Cleveland's offense was great shakes this year either.

7 Are the nominations purely…

Are the nominations purely based on performance this past season? If it is a question ‘which player would I want going forward, I think I would take Juju Smith Schuster over any of those names (possibly not Beckham).

9 Ultimately this is pretty…

Ultimately this is pretty good list.
No glaring omissions or undeserving spots BUT... )
No one should think long between Earl Thomas and Terrell Edmunds at S. You go with Earl every time.
Man, Edmunds by far is the weakest link in Steelers D. I remember watching their game vs Arizona and will never forget TD pass from Murray to Johnson. Watch how Edmunds played that episode. He breaked at Murray's throw like he was going for the INT, like he baited Kyle in that throw, just like he was Ed Reed going for the dagger, running for the ball. And in a sense he was correct, he did all that in perfect time but... after he jumped suddenly the ball was much higher then his outstretched arms, sailed over him right for the TD. That was embarrassing. I remember being dumbfounded, not angry at all (although I should be as a Steelers fan) and laughing my ass off at Edmunds. Just watch it for good laugh. Absolutely freaking comedy at safety position, especially when ball is in the air.