AFC North Odds Preview

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Odds to Win

Only a year ago, the Ravens were favored to win the AFC North, but went on to finish with just five wins. Instead, the Bengals, who had the third-best odds, easily took the division with a 12-4 record. And yet, the Steelers are favorites to win it this year, although not by a lot. For the first time in a while, it looks like the North is a two-team race with the Ravens on the outside, looking in.

Odds to win AFC North

courtesy of 5dimes Sportsbook

Pittsburgh Steelers +120
Cincinnati Bengals +185
Baltimore Ravens +325
Cleveland Browns +2500

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been a popular pick to not only win the AFC North the last couple years, but also be a Super Bowl contender. However, mostly due to injuries, that hasn’t panned out. Sure, the Steelers are an exciting team due to having one of the best offenses in the league, but defensively they still have questions. They were better last year, and that led to 10 wins, but ultimately, injuries derailed them. Having to roll with Fitzgerald Toussaint as lead back in the playoffs and without Antonio Brown against the Broncos, they just didn’t have enough. But they’re favored to win the division because Ben Roethlisberger and Brown are still there. Le’Veon Bell may be suspended the first Four Games, but DeAngelo Williams will do just fine as the backup as seen last year. The question again falls on the defensive side where Pittsburgh didn’t exactly get much better. The hope is that recent defensive-heavy drafts start to come through for them.

After last year’s success, the Cincinnati Bengals have to feel somewhat slighted by not being favored to win the division. With Andy Dalton healthy again, not a whole lot changes from last year’s core of players. Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu are gone at WR, but Brandon LAFell and Tyler Boyd step up into those spots, while A.J. Green is expected to have another monster season with tight end Tyler Eifert. The backfield duo of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard is one of the best in the league, as well. Of course, it remains to be seen how the loss of Hue Jackson will affect the offense as he moved on to Cleveland. Defensively, the Bengals should be just as good without much movement player-wise. As long as Geno Atkins is in the middle, they’ll be just fine.

The Baltimore Ravens are the team quickly falling off the radar and that may have something to do with Joe FlACCo’s torn ACL. If he can’t return to full strength, this team could have the same issues as a year ago when they only reached five wins. Everything on the offensive side should be better, though, at least at skill positions. Steve Smith is back to go with Mike Wallace and an experieNCed Kamar Aiken. second-year wide out Breshad Perriman is still an unknown due to health. The Ravens also added tight end Ben Watson to the mix to go with Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams. Even at running back, they have multiple options that can do damage. But how will they cope with the loss of Kelechi Osemele along the offensive line? And what is the defense going to look like after allowing 401 points a year ago? Eric Weddle enters the mix, but he’s a bit advaNCed in age. They’ll need Terrell Suggs to be effective and Jimmy Smith to return to an elite level to have success.

Last and least are the Cleveland Browns. There’s not much to expect out of them after another poor three-win season. Their defense was bad last year, and not much was done to change that. Getting Joe Haden back will help as well as a couple free agents in the secondary, but this unit is still less than mediocre. Offensively, the hope is that Robert Griffin III or Josh McCown can do something in Hue Jackson’s offense. Unfortunately, they lost a couple studs on the offensive line. At the least, Josh Gordon could be back by Week 5 to go with tight end GAry Barnidge and a lot of inexperieNCe at wide receiver. Duke Johnson is expected to take the next step at running back, while Isaiah Crowell will split time. This is still the Browns and a lot has to change before they start challenging for the division crown.

Betting on a team other than the Steelers or Bengals seems like a mistake here. The Bengals may be the way to go as they are getting worse odds despite winning last season. The Steelers are the trendy pick because of the offense, but something seems to go wrong every year for them.

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