- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham is an Ohio native and a soon-to-be free agent. His grandfather is a Browns fan.
What are the chances that he ends up with the Browns next season?
"I don't know where I'm going to end up," Manningham said before the Super Bowl, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I'm not really thinking about that right now. All I'm thinking about is winning this game."
Manningham made the catch of the game in the Giants' 21-17 Super Bowl victory on Sunday night. It was a spectacular over-the-shoulder grab close to the sideline where he somehow managed to stay in bounds. His 38-yard reception was the first play and the critical one in the game-winning 88-yard touchdown drive.
Hensley's slant: It's very easy to get excited over Manningham, especially after watching him make five catches for 73 yards. But this came against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. He was a role player for the Giants, and the Browns don't need another No. 2 receiver. Don't forget that Manningham caught 39 passes for 523 yards and four touchdowns during the regular season. The Browns need to upgrade, not maintain the status quo.
BENGALS: There was no love for the Bengals at the "NFL Honors" show where quarterback Andy Dalton (runner-up for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year), wide receiver Jerome Simpson (third in Play of the Year) and head coach Marvin Lewis (no votes for Coach of the Year) left empty-handed. “I’m a student of the game and I was watching what Andy Dalton and all the rookies did,” Rookie of the Year winner Cam Newton said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It was amazing not only the success I had but what he also did.” Hensley's slant: The biggest surprise for me was wide receiver A.J. Green getting shut out in the voting for Offensive Rookie of the Year award. His stats don't measure up to Newton, but he deserved some recognition -- or at least one vote. Green will rank among the NFL's best receivers for the next decade.
RAVENS: Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti doesn't believe the window of opportunity is closing on his team. "Not when you have a franchise quarterback coming up that's entering his fifth year,” Bisciotti said, via The Baltimore Sun. “We got great contributions this year from three of our seven draft picks, and I know that we are very excited about the other ones." Critics point to the Ravens' two aging defensive leaders: linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed. Lewis turns 37 in May, and Reed will be 34 before the 2012 season begins. Hensley's slant: Even though the Ravens have Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, the defense will lose some of its identity when Lewis and Reed decide to retire. The best way for the Ravens to extend the window is to get their offense to pick up the slack. There should be no excuses with young talent like Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith and Ed Dickson.
STEELERS: Hall of Fame defensive lineman Joe Greene is supporting a change in the Steelers' offense this season. "If it doesn't feel good, you have to change it and, basically, it wasn't feeling good," Greene told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It wasn't feeling good in '09, and it wasn't feeling good in 2011." Greene said watching the offense last season was difficult for him. "I don't like the imbalance," he said. Hensley's slant: The Steelers are expected to go back to a more balanced game plan by running the ball more. The idea will only work if the Steelers have a running back who can handle that workload. With Rashard Mendenhall (knee) likely out for the start of the season, it will be interesting to see if Pittsburgh adds to a group that includes Isaac Redman, Mewelde Moore, John Clay and Jonathan Dwyer.