It was no accident that when the odds were released for your AFC North betting pleasure, the Pittsburgh Steelers were at the top of the list. In the 16-year history of the division, the Steelers have won the AFC North eight times. The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals both have four division titles and it won’t shock you to learn that the Cleveland Browns have yet to place an AFC North Champions cap upon their heads. There’s a reason they’re at the bottom of your AFC North odds heap at +1500.
If you’re into NFL history, the AFC North doesn’t have a long one. This division was created back in 2002 when the NFL realigned after adding its 32nd team, the Houston Texans. The modern AFC North houses the old AFC Central minus the Tennessee Titans, who had originally been the Houston Oilers.
Is there a reason to rock the boat this year and look beyond the Steelers? Probably not, but we’ll go through the entire division as we look at your AFC North odds and betting options.
2018 AFC North Odds
Pittsburgh Steelers -800
Baltimore Ravens +850
Cincinnati Bengals +850
Cleveland Browns +20,000
Pittsburgh Steelers Odds
Win totals: Over 10.5 (-114), Under 10.5 (-116)
The Steelers are coming into 2018 off a 13-3 season which they promptly wasted by losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. No matter how hard he tried, Mike Tomlin just couldn’t come up with a way to get his Steelers over the hump. Still, if you’re betting in the AFC North, you have to look hard at Pittsburgh.
What’s not to like? Ben Roethlisberger is wrapping up a Hall of Fame career and it would be pretty nice to see him hoist another Lombardi trophy before he rides off in the sunset.
This is a loaded team top-to-bottom and the only thing keeping them from surpassing their “over” in wins is if Roethlisberger misses any significant time with an injury. Since it happens so frequently, you almost have to count that into your potential AFC North betting. I still like the Steelers to beat the over and win the North.
Projected win total and finish: 12-4, first place in the AFC North
Baltimore Ravens Odds
Win totals: Over 8.5 (+100), Under 8.5 (-130)
If you watch Game of Thrones, then you’re familiar with the phrase, “The North Remembers.” It would be wise to remember that other than the Steelers, the Ravens are the only other team from this division to ever win a Super Bowl trophy and they’ve done it twice.
Reports out of Ravens camp suggest that Joe Flacco is having the best camp of his life. Maybe he needed a little fire lit under him with the drafting of Lama Jackson. Maybe he’s just mad and this is what happens when he expresses any emotion at all. Flacco is, unquestionably, one of the three best postseason quarterbacks of this era. The other two? Tom Brady and Eli Manning. If the Ravens get into the playoffs, they usually make a deep run and Flacco is always the reason why.
Still, with the Ravens defense aging any Super Bowl window is likely closing fast. I like them to make the playoffs and beat the over on their win total, but they’re still looking at a Wild Card berth.
Projected win total and finish: 10-6, second place in the AFC North
Cincinnati Bengals Odds
Win totals: Over 5 (+110), Under 5 (-140)
If you were curious as to exactly how the Ravens, with their 9-7 finish, didn’t make the postseason in 2017, look no further than the Cincinnati Bengals. Marvin Lewis, in what was supposed to be his final game on the Bengals sideline, coached his team to a 31-27 win over the Ravens on New Year’s Eve, spoiling any playoff plans for Baltimore. Not even a week later Lewis and Cincinnati agreed to a new, two-year contract.
Lewis hinted at a possible rebuild in Cincinnati, but that didn’t materialize in the draft or free agency and the AFC North odds reflect that lack of anything interesting happening. Under Lewis, the Bengals have won fewer than five games only twice in 14 seasons. Even with the holes on this team, it’s far too talented to finish 4-12 or worse.
Projected win total and finish: 8-8, third place in the AFC North
Cleveland Browns Odds
Win totals: Over 5 (+110), Under 5 (-140)
Finally, we come to the Cleveland Browns. Last year the Browns were only the second team in the post-free-agency era to finish 0-16. It’s a feat that should have been impossible to achieve when the Detroit Lions did it back in 2008. It should have been twice as difficult to do it again, yet Cleveland made it look easy.
It has been a historic half-decade of futility for the Browns. This isn’t just an 0-16 team looking to bounce back from a garbage season. Cleveland has won a total of four games in the last three years. In those seasons, they have been outscored by 154 points (2015), 188 points (2016) and 176 points (2017).
If you’re looking for a bright side, and if you’re a Browns fan you’re looking for anything, the Browns have significantly upgraded the roster this year. Does that make their AFC North odds any better? No. But it does mean they should win some games.
Tyrod Taylor won’t surprise anyone, but he’ll be better than any quarterback the Browns put on the field last season. No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield is the future of the franchise and the sooner they hand him the keys, the better.
Projected win total and finish: 4-12, fourth place in the AFC North
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