Odds To Win AFC North

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to win AFC North

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It’s another normal season for the AFC North with the division up for grabs (outside of the Browns). The Ravens, Steelers and Bengals have all won the division twice in the last six years and at least oNCe in the last three. The Steelers may be favored, but winning the AFC North in back-to-back seasons is not an easy feat.

Odds to win AFC North

courtesy of 5dimes

Baltimore Ravens +170
Pittsburgh Steelers +215
Cincinnati Bengals +255
Cleveland Browns +1125

Interestingly, the Baltimore Ravens have the best odds to win the division this season after having the third-best (+255) a season ago. Not much has changed for this team, and that’s why it’s interesting after they finished in third place (barely) last year. Joe FlACCo probably had his best season to date in 2014 and he still didn’t even surpass 4,000 yards and 27 TDs. But that’s all this team needs from him. Marc Trestman comes in to lead the offense, although it’s hard to see him going too far away from what worked last year. Justin Forsett came out of nowhere to be the lead back, but the issue for this offense may be at wide receiver. With Torrey Smith gone, Steve Smith Sr. is now the top guy and he’s 36 years old and retiring at season’s end. Rookie Breshad Perriman and Kamar Aiken will need to step up immediately to fill that void. Defensively, the Ravens are still solid even after the secondary fell apart in 2014. With Jimmy Smith set to return along with the additions of Kyle Arrington and Kendrick Lewis, this group will be better. And of course the Ravens still have a stout front seven.

The Pittsburgh Steelers easily have the best skill players in the division. Not only is Ben Roethlisberger the best quarterback, but Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are also the best at their respective positions. So why did they have the third-best odds to win the AFC North last year? Mostly because their defense wasn’t any good. It’s hard to see them being any worse than a year ago as long as they can stay healthy. second-year LB Ryan Shazier is a big part of that after being hurt most of his rookie season. But even if the defense isn’t any good, the offense could be one of the best in the league. Big Ben has plenty of targets to turn to in Brown, Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant. And even with Bell missing two Games, that should only keep him fresher as the season goes on. DeAngelo Williams is a solid complement to Bell as well. Pittsburgh scored 436 points in 2014 and could easily pass that total with every relevant player back.

Nothing much has changed for the Cincinnati Bengals, but they have moved from division favorite to third-best odds in one year. Andy Dalton took a step back statistically in 2014, but a lot of that was due to A.J. Green and Marvin Jones being hurt. If those guys can come in and stay healthy, this offense should be much better because they already have a top running Game led by Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. CiNCy’s defense struggled at times last year, but a lot of that was due to injury. If Geno Atkins can get back to his usual form along with Vontaze Burfict at linebacker, the depth at secondary will do the rest. The success of the Bengals may be dependent on staying healthy, but if that happens, they have a good chance of winning the North again.

As for the Cleveland Brown, their chances of winning the division aren’t great. Johnny Manziel might end up being the starting QB and the only way this team makes the playoffs is if he lives up to his name because Josh McCown isn’t going to lead this team anywhere. It’s hard to see that happening with the way Manziel has looked so far in his NFL career, especially with the receivers he has to throw to. Dwayne Bowe cannot take Josh Gordon’s spot. The Browns have a solid defense, but they aren’t the type that will win Games by themselves like the Ravens have.

The top three teams in the AFC North were separated by just one Game last year and there’s no reason it’ll be different this season. Any one of these teams would be a good bet, but when in doubt, go with the better offense and that would be the Steelers.

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