Morning take: Flacco takes major step

Here are the most interesting stories Monday in the AFC North:

Morning take: A good postseason game was a big step in Flacco's maturation process, and he passed it with flying colors. Flacco's next step is seeing if he can beat Pittsburgh Steelers counterpart Ben Roethlisberger for the first time in his career.

Morning take: Dawson has been close a few times and this is Bettis' chance to get in on the first ballot. Both will know if they get into the Hall during Super Bowl weekend.

  • ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is becoming a front-runner for the Cleveland Browns’ coaching vacancy.

Morning take: I don't see it, but stranger things have happened. Shurmur would be a tough sell to a Cleveland town starving for a big name.

Morning take: This has become a good scouting tool for the Bengals. Several drafted players by Cincinnati over the past few years have come from this game.