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2009-2010 AFC North Preview

Odds Favor Steelers to repeat

The Odds once again favor the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the AFC North and go deep into the NFL playoffs in 2009-2010. However, if you're looking to make a wager on who will win the AFC North, you'll find better value with the other 3 teams, the Bengals, Ravens or Browns, all of which will be competitive this year. In our opinion the betting value lies with the Ravens. You have to appreciate what they did a year ago. They can beat the Steelers. The Steelers will have their work cut out for them, as Super Bowl Champs usually do. It's never easy to play with a bullseye on your back. At odds of almost 4/1, we'll gladly back the Ravens this year.

Here's a team by team look at the AFC North complete with each teams odds to win the Division. To get live up to date odds on each of these teams simply visit any or all of the leading sportsbooks. Be sure to shop around for the best odds!

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (Odds to win AFC North -225) Mike Tomlinís team took down their sixth Super Bowl last year. They should be every bit as good in 2009. The Steelers only lost one starter, CB Bryant McFadden, from last yearís team. He was expendable. The offensive line left something to be desired in 2008, and should be improved this season. The Steelers defense was dominating last year and was a large reason why they were able to navigate their brutal schedule so easily.

Pittsburgh has the best linebackers in the entire NFL. NFL Defensive-Player-of-the-Year James Harrison will continue to dominate foes. The secondary ranked #1 in the NFL last year and should continue to be stellar. Ben Roethlisberger is a proven commodity at QB. The Miami (OH) alum will continue to lead this team to victories for many years to come. Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward provide an excellent 1-2 punch at WR. Limas Sweed was a second round pick in 2008 and could have a breakout year at WR. The Steelers have a very easy schedule this time around and could win 14 games. They have had a vice grip on the AFC North for years, and it doesnít look to be loosening any time soon.



Cincinnati Bengals (Odds to win AFC North 4/1) Itís seems like an eternity has passed since the Bengals finished 11-5 and won the AFC North in 2005. QB Carson Palmer is now 30 years old and a seasoned veteran. His past couples of seasons have been marred with injuries, but he claims that he is 100% now. He lost WR T.J. Houshmanzadeh, but gained the equally skilled Laveranues Coles. Chad Johnson (I refuse to call him Chad Ochocinco) seems like he has regained his senses and could be sitting on another Pro Bowl season. The offensive line is atrocious despite the addition of first round draft pick Andre Smith.

If the Cincinnati Bengals want to compete they must get production from RB Cedric Benson. The former Chicago Bearís first round draft pick pounded the ball for over 100 yards in 3 of his 8 games last year. The defense should be improved. The addition of Tank Johnson should help the Bengals to apply pressure on the line. LBs Keith River sand Rey Maualuga are former teammates and will pack a large punch. Dhani Jones is also a tough LB. The talent is there, and if the Bengals rally around Carson Palmer, they could be headed for big things. However, Iím not going to hold my breath.



Baltimore Ravens (Odds to win AFC North 3.5/1) This team will give division favorite Pittsburgh a run for their money. If they are unsuccessful in knocking the Steelers from their perch atop the division, they have a very good chance of locking down the AFCís wildcard bid. QB Joe Flacco became arguably the most successful rookie QB in the history of the NFL last year. He threw 14 TD passes en route to 2 playoff game wins. However, he also threw 12 INTs. He has to improve on that stat, and experience will likely do the trick.

McClain and McGahee did a great job running the ball last year. McClain became the first Ravenís FB to make it to the Pro Bowl. Derrick Mason and Todd Heap can be counted on to catch many passes and bring several TDs the Ravens way. The defense has always been stellar in Baltimore. They pulled down an NFL high 27 INTs last year. MLB Ray Lewis and FS Ed Reed are two of the best defensive players in the NFL. John Harbaugh did an excellent job in his first year at head coach and should continue to help this team to move forward.



Cleveland Browns (Odds to win AFC North 10/1) Things arenít looking up for members of the Dawg Pound, but new coach Eric Mangini brings hope to the team. Many were left scratching their head when he was fired in New York, but one manís trash is another manís treasure. Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn will compete for the starting QB position. Both are skilled players who can get the job done. Whoever wins will be rewarded with excellent WR Braylon Edward. When he is on his game he is as good as any WR in the entire NFL.

The defensive line is one of the brightest spots on the team for the Browns. They boast talented DT Shaun Rodgers. He was a Pro Bowler last year. The LB corps is weak to say the least. The secondary is also leaving something to be desired. The special teams should do a good job keeping opposing teams from picking up big yards from the get go. Overcoming divisional stalwarts Pittsburgh and Baltimore is unlikely to happen in 2009.
 

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