The NFL’s AFC North Division has mostly been a three-way race in the last few decades. But with the roster overhaul in Cleveland, the Browns are now one of the favorites to win the division.
Cleveland even became a +120 frontrunner at BetOnline.ag last month but when the dust settled, the oddsmaker placed the Baltimore Ravens as the slight betting favorites after week 1. And rightfully so. The Ravens had a big week 1 victory over the Miami Dolphins while the Browns fizzled in Week 1 and saw their preseason hype come crashing down after a 13-43 pounding at the hands of the Tennessee Titans. Likewise, the Pittsburgh Steelers opened the season with a beating at the hands of the defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots while the Cincinnati Bengals narrowly lost to the Seattle Seahawks on opening week.
Here are the odds to win the AFC North Division this season. These odds were taken from TitanBet as of 9/11/19:
- Baltimore Ravens +175
- Cleveland Browns +190
- Pittsburgh Steelers +190
- Cincinnati Bengals +1800
Who are the Favorites?
The Baltimore Ravens run to the postseason behind then rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson in 2018 was the biggest stories of that particular season. And with Jackson returning wiser and better, the Ravens and their running game are going to be fun to watch this season. With Joe Flacco traded to Denver, the Ravens are now Lamar Jackson’s team and he isn’t the only youngblood on offense. With rookie wide receivers Marquise Brown and Miles Boykins, Baltimore has young key pieces on their roster. Their defense lost Eric Weddle and Terrell Suggs in free agency but management did a great job getting Jaylon Fergurson, Earl Thomas and Shane Ray to mitigate the damage. Baltimore has a good schedule and they are justified as the NFL betting favorites to win the AFC North.
I’m not sure when was the last time that the Cleveland Browns had odds this high to win their division early in the season. The Browns have been very bad for as long as I can remember but with General Manager John Dorsey bringing in Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon plus the team signing Kareem Hunt and Sheldon Richardson, this is actually a good team, at least on paper. The Browns went 7-8-1 SU during Baker Mayfield’s rookie season and given that he is a year older, the Browns could be scary this year. There is talent everywhere and with defensive players like Christian Kirksey, Denzel Ward and Myles Garrett, the Browns could have a special season this year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been one of the league’s most consistent teams in years although last season’s team was anything but that. But the Le’Veon Bell holdout is a thing of the past now as the running back has signed with the New York Jets while Antonio Brown has moved on to the Raiders and now to the Patriots. That means that it is now up to JuJu Smith-Schuster to step up to the challenge. Ben Roethlisberger can still go and with Mike Tomlin calling the shots, Big Ben should be well-motivated. With all the drama behind, the Steelers are an interesting bet at +190.
The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the toughest teams to read in the NFL. The team let go of longtime head coach Marvin Lewis and hired Sean McVay disciple Zac Taylor. The offensive-minded Taylor is expected to make the offense run smoother and function better this season. Andy Dalton, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green can put up the points for the Bengals but offense really isn’t their biggest issue. It’s stopping other teams from scoring.
Cincinnati had one of the league’s worst defenses one year ago and without much changes, they will likely struggle in that department again this year. They have a tough first half schedule and I don’t really see them winning the division, at least this season.
ILamar Jackson disappointed in the playoffs against the Chargers last season but he quickly erased the doubts with a splendid effort in Week 1. Sure, that game was against the woeful Miami Dolphins but if that was any indication, Jackson and company look headed to a big year. I see Cleveland and Pittsburgh starting out slowly because of the changes that happened to their team. I think the Ravens will be off to a good start and with their kind schedule, they should be able to take a good lead early and hang on to win the division. Prediction: Baltimore Ravens