We’ve spent the last week diving deep into Madden 21 Analytics to rank every aspect of each franchise team. We used the EA Madden team’s ratings, which you can find here, to build all of our rankings. It’s time to reveal how each team stacked up. Today, we take on the AFC North.
Franchise Team Rank: 19th
The Good: Pittsburgh has for years enjoyed a top 10 offensive line and this year is no different as the Steelers are top 10 in both run and pass blocking. One of the best pass-rushing units in the game, the Steelers checked in at number 3 in ORR. The number 4 ranked run defense, along with top 10 man and zone coverage units, make this defense one of the best in the game.
The Bad: Ben Roethlisberger has fallen off and is now rated my 32nd QB in adjust quarterback ratings. The Steelers cap space has gotten tight and now sits at 26th in the league. The team as a whole is below average in athleticism with the 23rd offensive athleticism ranking and 18th defensive athleticism rankings.
The Bottom Line: The Steelers really have one of the most underrated defensive units in the game. They have quality players at every level of the defense and while the unit isn’t super young, it should maintain well into the cycle. The real issue with this Steelers team is on the offensive side of the ball. With no quarterback of the future on the roster and limited quality weapons outside of JuJu Smith-Schuster, this team may not be super appealing to most.
Pittsburgh could be set up really well if they can find Ben’s replacement early. Similar to the Colts, I am calling the Saints day 1 about Jameis Winston. Beyond that, I am looking for a potential upgrade at halfback as James Conner doesn’t fit the athletic profile most guys are looking at. A team like the Browns, Rams, Colts, or Broncos all could hold the future HB for the Steelers.
Overall this team’s ranking is a little lower than I expected but it is very manageable. The cap situation gets instantly better if, and it’s a big if, Roethlisberger retires after year 1. The Steelers are a team built to win right away and a good owner should be able to plan for the future pretty easily.
Franchise Team Rank: 17th
The Good: Joe Burrow is a quarterback to build around as he ranked 8th on my adjusted QB rankings. Another team in the AFC North with a solid pass rush, the Bengals ORR of 6th makes them intriguing for defensive-minded users. With the 11th rated team in the youth power index, and with the 6th most cap, this team is set up well for future growth.
The Bad: The glaring issue for the Bengals is their offensive line and it’s 31st ranking in both run and pass blocking. Slightly below average athleticism on the defensive and offensive side of the ball isn’t great. The back end coverage isn’t great either sitting right about league average in man and zone coverage.
The Bottom Line: This team has a lot to like about it if you can get past the massive offensive line issues. Joe Burrow is a great quarterback to develop. Some will tell you 86 throw power makes him a hard pass, however, with development at Superstar one should expect a throw power increase or two within the first year.
As far as management goes, the big question will be what do you do at wide receiver? AJ Green is aging while John Ross is on the last year of his disappointing rookie contract. Both of these guys should have solid value in the trade market, and one would think that either could be traded to help improve this roster. The two areas to target for me would be the offensive line, obviously, but also the tight end position.
With a sneaky good pass rush and some sex appeal at their skill positions, the Bengals seem like a team that may go earlier in your team draft than most think. Jow Burrow gives an owner a quality QB for an entire cycle which can be enticing based on some of the past QB draft classes in Madden. The fact the team is young and has a large amount of cap also allows owners to put their own fingerprints on the team moving forward.
Franchise Team Rank: 13th
The Good: The Browns hold the top spot in the youth power index with a team that should be good throughout the cycle. Offensively, Cleveland possesses the 2nd rated weapons in the league along with a top 10 unit in athleticism. Baker Mayfield checks in as the 10th rated in adjusted QB rantings. Defensively, it’s all about the 2nd rated pass-rushing unit.
The Bad: The backend of the defense is not very good as both man and zone coverage rankings are bottom ten in the league. The linebacking group is pulling the run defense rankings into the bottom ten range. Offensively, the only real issue appears to be the 25th ranked run blocking.
The Bottom Line: Much like last year this team is loaded, but this year they are loaded with major depth as well. They possess top-end talent at almost every position on the field making them instant contenders year 1. Beyond the starters, you have two guys in Kareem Hunt and David Njoku who are quality trade pieces that should net the team some serious value in return.
The main focus of this team needs to be in the back 7 on defense. Using guys like Hunt and Njoku, the Brown’s owner should be looking to acquire an upgrade at linebacker, safety, and potentially another corner. A possible trade could involve moving Njoku to New England in exchange for one of their corners.
This team is ready-made for someone who just wants to win and not worry too much about team building. There isn’t a whole lot to worry about outside of some potential cap issues down the road, however, even those are manageable. If you are a good owner, and you get ahold of this team, you will be in the driver seat in your franchise for the cycle most likely.
Franchise Team Rank: 2nd
The Good: Lamar Jackson is the 2nd rated quarterback in my adjust QB ratings. A top 10 line in both pass and run blocking provides Jackson with a lot of room to operate. Defensively, the secondary is a top 10 unit in man and zone coverage. The team as a whole is 3rd in YPI and is 7th in cap space to boot.
The Bad: There really isn’t a whole lot to put here. The 25th rated run defense would be the biggest issue for this team. The weapons have some potential but as they stand right now they are the 20th rated group in the league.
The Bottom Line: The Ravens are the 2nd rated team in my rankings for a reason, they are flat out dominant. Lamar Jackson gives you an electric playmaking QB for the entire cycle. The defense has really good players at each level, along with some young up and comers. Offensively, guys like Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown are future stars in the making.
In terms of team management, there isn’t a whole lot to do here. This team isn’t flush with a lot of assets to trade away, but again there isn’t much of a need here either. If there was one place I’d consider looking around at it would be for a #2 wide receiver potentially. Miles Boykin has some upside but it never hurts to see what else is available out there.
The Ravens will be one of the first teams to go in your team draft. It’s not just that they are rated highly across the board, it’s that they have pieces that are fun to play with which will be even more enticing to potential owners. The Ravens join the Browns as one of those teams ready-made to go wire to wire in terms of being a top-quality team.