The AFC North in recent years has seen the Steelers and Ravens duke it out for the top spot with the Bengals usually in the mix while the lowly Browns sat in the basement. 2019 looks a little different, at least according to the current odds to win the division.
The Browns of all teams, are the current favorites due to some big off season moves. The Browns odds to win the division are +120. (120 for every 100 wagered)
With that in mind, there may very well be some value backing one of the other three teams to win the AFC North division.
Can the Drought end in Cleveland?
The last time the Browns made the playoffs Baker Mayfield was seven years old. He enters his sophomore season after a great rookie campaign for a Cleveland team on the rise.
They finished last season 7-8-1 and the team rocked the off-season bringing in WR Odell Beckham Jr., and RB Kareem Hunt and Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon on the defensive side of the ball.
While there is a TON of hype in Cleveland, and with good reason, the team still only finished 30th in the league on defense last season.
Mayfield has a lot of weapons and the D added some key players, but the first half schedule is not easy, as after their first two games they face four teams in five games that made the playoffs last season.
Steelers Look to Bounce Back after Drama Gone
Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are now out of Pittsburgh, as the Steelers (19/10) look to get back to playoffs. Yeah, those two are stars, but the team still has young ones in WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, RB James Conner, and a guy named Ben Roethlisberger under center.
The defense for the Steelers ranked a legit 6th last season and in the last two seasons T.J. Watt has 20 sacks. With two major distractions from last season’s bad campaign out of town Pittsburgh may get back to where they are used to being, which is in the playoffs.
Jackson’s Time is Now
The Ravens are the defending AFC North champions and it is now Lamar Jackson’s team. He had a good rookie campaign, but only passed for five TD and the team wants to tone down his running of the ball.
Baltimore brought in RB Mark Ingram II and bolstered the WR corps through the draft, hello 1st round pick Marquise Brown, but the D will still be the strength of the team.
Baltimore had the league’s top-ranked defense last season and star S Earl Thomas joins the unit. Still, while the D should be solid for the Ravens a lot hinges on Jackson and if he can be the signal caller they envisioned when taking him the first round of the 2018 draft.
Are the Bungals Back?
After a solid run of playoff appearances, which produced zero wins, is Cincy (16/1) back to being to the laughingstock of the AFC? Well, that may not be the case, but the team has issues.
QB Andy Dalton is back for another run, but is his time up? The offense should not be bad if he and WR A.J. Green stay healthy and WR Tyler Boyd (1,028 receiving yards) and RB Joe Mixon (1,168 rushing yards last season) continue to develop.
The defense for the Bengals ranked dead last in the league last season and the team used their top two draft picks to take offensive players. Oh yeah, and their top pick (#11) OT Jonah Williams is out for the season with a shoulder injury.