- NFL Division Futures view the AFC North as a true toss-up with the Bengals, Browns, and Ravens all hovering around +200
- Pittsburgh (+1100) has the longest odds of winning the division despite never finishing below .500 in Mike Tomlin’s 15 years as head coach.
- Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson could be facing a lengthy suspension from the NFL.
Joe Burrow and the Bengals are only slight favorites to repeat in the AFC North despite going all the way to the Super Bowl last February. Could oddsmakers be underrating Cincinnati because of a long history of organizational failures and overrating their divisional opponents in Cleveland and Baltimore?
Browns are hard to bet on
It’s hard to believe the Browns (+220) have the same odds to win the AFC North as the Bengals (+200) and Ravens (+200) on some betting sites. With new Deshaun Watson accusers and allegations surfacing almost daily, the likelihood of a long suspension increases. That would leave journeyman quarterback Jacoby Brissett at the controls, assuming Baker Mayfield couldn’t be wooed back.
Even with a soft opening schedule (@CAR, NYJ, PIT, @ATL) and an otherwise strong roster, Cleveland is more likely to miss the playoffs in a loaded AFC than they are to win their division.
Exclusive: The NFL star Deshaun Watson, who has been accused of sexual misconduct during massage appointments, used resources provided by the Houston Texans, including nondisclosure agreements, to make appointments with more women than previously known. https://t.co/uUMPmv7E41 pic.twitter.com/kLHTo8HdrN
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 7, 2022
AFC North royalty
Baltimore (+200) and Pittsburgh (+1100) have won the AFC North a combined 15 times in the past 20 years. However, with Ben Roethlisberger’s merciful retirement, the Steelers will roll with rookie Kenny Pickett and Mitchell Trubisky under center. While Mike Tomlin always finds a way to finish over .500, it sure looks like Steel City’s proud tradition of winning football will be put on hold until 2023, at minimum.
Meanwhile, the Ravens look to rebound from an injury-filled season that claimed Lamar Jackson, running back J.K. Dobbins, and multiple offensive linemen and cornerbacks. Receiver Marquise Brown was shipped to Arizona, but with a top-tier defense and LJ8 at full health, John Harbaugh’s club should be able to outscore most opponents.
Bengals beef up their offensive line
After Joe Burrow was sacked 70 times last year (including the playoffs), the Bengals added three new starters on the offensive line: Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, and former Cowboy La’el Collins. If the additions can keep Burrow healthy and upright, he should have no problem connecting downfield with the league’s best wide receiver tandem in Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.
— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) June 7, 2022
With quality depth up front and across the secondary, the NFL’s most underrated defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo, has what he needs to frustrate elite AFC QBs, as he did with Patrick Mahomes in the AFC Championship Game.
Try to forget the fact that Cincinnati has been embarrassed so often by the Steelers and Ravens over the past two decades and instead realize that Burrow gives the Queen City an edge over every other team in their division. The Bengals will own the AFC North for years to come.
AFC North Pick: Cincinnati Bengals (+200)
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