AFC North Division Best Bet
The Bengals ruled the north last year but we like a new champion this season.
On paper the two best teams in the AFC North are the Bengals and the Ravens who are both priced somewhere between +150 and +200 depending on where you look. You also have the Browns a little further down the board and the Steelers who have the longest odds at around 10/1.
Let's start with the Super Bowl runner up Cincinnati Bengals who look to have a very talented team and could definitely win this division. They have a dynamic passing game with Burrow, Chase, and Higgins. Even with all this talent however, we aren't as high on this team as most. Yes, they look good on paper but it may be tough to bounce back from that tough Super Bowl loss. You still have Zac Taylor coaching this team which is a definite drawback and the case could be made that he cost them a Super Bowl win last year. You also still have a lot of question marks on the offensive line which leads to Burrow getting hit a lot and potentially missing some time due to injury. Add those factors combined with a schedule that grades out as the 26th toughest in the league and we think they will take a step back this year.
The Steelers and the Browns can be grouped together as teams that have a lot of question marks heading into the season. If Cleveland doesn't make a move for a quarterback then they will be stuck with Jacoby Brisset for at least half the season which is a significant problem. Even if they get Watson back on the sooner side there's no guarantee that he will immediately be ready to play and they may be too far behind the 8 ball already. Also, there's a chance he gets suspended for the entire year, or close to it, in which case you're looking at starting Brissett all year which really isn't a viable option as he's not a true NFL caliber starting QB.
There's also no shortage of question marks surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers. You can start with the quarterback postion, there's a narrative out there that Mitch Trubisky somehow ressurected his career by being a backup QB in Buffalo for a year which seems pretty far fetched. Maybe Kenny Pickett can be good but he's still a rookie who definitely has some question marks coming out of college. But regardless of who plays QB the real issue is the offensive line, which the Steelers really didn't address at all in the offseason. This was one of the worst units in football last year and whoever plays QB will be operating with little to no running game and constant pressure from defenses.
This leads us to the Baltimore Ravens who didn't make much of a splash in the offseason in terms of adding pieces to their team. They do bring back a lot of continuity however, and Lamar should have a chip on his shoulder this year as he is looking for a new contract. He looks like he's bulked up in the offseason and reports from the Ravens have been very positive regarding his commitment to improving himself both physically and from a football perspective. You should get a healthy JK Dobbins back which will bolster the run game which the Ravens need to feature to get back to the team they were when the won the division 2 years ago. Rashod Bateman will hopefully take a step forward as the number one reciever in his second year on the team. The defense still has a lot of good pieces and they always seem to outperform their talent level. The still have John Harbaugh who is one of the better coaches in the NFL. They will also benefit from playing an easier schedule because they didn't win the division last year. In fact they have the 11th easiest schedule heading into the year.
The Ravens are a team that is built for the regular season, with a strong running game and really solid coaching. Come playoff time it may be a different story but we think they have the potential to get to 11 wins and take down a unusually weak AFC North. South Point has +180 on them for that division which looks to be the best number out there.