NFL Betting Preview
Odds and Predictions
Much like every other season in the AFC North, it will be closely contested. Three different teams have won the division in the last Four seasons. The Bengals finished on top last year and beat out the Ravens and Steelers by a surprising three Games each due to an undefeated 8-0 home record.
Odds to win AFC North
courtesy of 5dimes
Cincinnati Bengals +175
Pittsburgh Steelers +215
Baltimore Ravens +255
Cleveland Browns +650
The Cincinnati Bengals are favored to win the AFC North, but the margins are extremely thin. Their over/under for wins is set at 9, while the Ravens and Steelers are both at 8.5. The Bengals didn’t make any major moves in the offseason mainly because they didn’t have to. Andy Dalton continues to improve by the year and still has A.J. Green to toss the ball to. Giovani Bernard figures to play a bigger role out of the backfield in his second year and Jeremy Hill will likely steal touches from BenJarvus Green-Ellis. CiNCy was led by a top defense last year and that will be the case again, and that includes Geno Atkins, who tore his ACL halfway through the 2013 season.
Up next is the Pittsburgh Steelers who look mostly the same except for a few new faces. LANCe Moore comes in as the new slot receiver while Markus Wheaton steps in as the No. 2 wide receiver for Ben Roethlisberger. Le’Veon Bell is expected to be a bell cow in this offense, and if he stays healthy, has the potential to be great. They drafted LB Ryan Shazier and DE Stephon Tuitt, and both are set to start from the go. They also grabbed safety Mike Mitchell, which gives them a bit more depth. One thing that always seems to hamper the Steelers is injuries, be it on offense or defense. If their top players like Big Ben and Troy Polamalu can stay healthy, there’s no reason why they can’t compete for the division.
The Baltimore Ravens have fallen off a bit since winning the Super Bowl two seasons ago, but this is obviously still a team you can’t take lightly. The biggest differeNCe for 2014 will be the added targets for Joe FlACCo to throw to. The Ravens lost a number of receivers due to injury last year which hurt FlACCo enormously. Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones return healthy, Marlon Brown is in his second season, and they picked up Steve Smith and Owen Daniels in the offseason. While the running Game was brutal last year, it should improve along with the passing Game this season. After a disappointing 2013, the Ravens also bulked up on the defensive end with guys like Timmy JerniGAn and C.J. Mosley. If FlACCo and the offense can get past last season’s struggles, watch out for the Ravens.
A lot of people considered the Cleveland Browns to be an upset play heading into this year, but the potential loss of Josh Gordon is monumental because it moves guys like Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins and Nate Burleson into bigger receiving roles. While their defense is solid, how will the offense perform under Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel? They are still a year or two away from competing for the division title.
The Bengals are the favorite to win the AFC North, but the value probably isn’t with them. The Steelers can be a good bet just because of their history. Not to mention Mike Tomlin could be coaching for his job this season. Based on Pittsburgh’s pedigree, they are the best play here.