The Baltimore Ravens came within less than a minute of earning a Wild Card spot. They’ve since retooled their offense in hopes of earning a postseason bid.
After spoiling the Ravens’ season in Week 17, the Cincinnati Bengals hope to return to playoff form. However, they need to reverse a losing trend that’s lasted for two seasons.
Nobody in the division has more young talent than the Cleveland Browns. But will they finally be able to turn this talent into a winning season?
You can see the odds on each AFC North team below along with their season outlooks.
2018 Odds on Winning AFC North
Here are the GTBets odds for all four teams in the division. Note that these odds are available on and off leading up to the regular season:
- Baltimore +385
- Cincinnati +1000
- Cleveland +1000
- Pittsburgh -250
2018 AFC North Team Previews
Pittsburgh Steelers (-250)
Ben Roethlisberger is talking more about retirement in recent years. But he still has the arm strength to make fast, short throws mixed with downfield passes.
He’ll once again benefit from having Antonio Brown, the league’s top receiver. JuJu Smith-Schuster, who had a very good rookie campaign, will serve as a nice complement to Brown.
Running back Le’Veon Bell is yet another option in the passing game. He exercises a patient run style and will benefit from the Steelers’ elite offensive line.
Pittsburgh suffered a huge loss with Ryan Shazier’s horrific back injury last season. The results showed as they frequently gave up both big runs and passes.
However, they also led the league with 56 sacks last season, including 12 by Cam Heyward. The team also brought in safety Morgan Burnett and first-round pick Terrell Edmunds to help with the secondary. Pittsburgh’s young linebacking core won’t be able to make up for the loss of Shazier, but they should improve in 2018.
It’s almost impossible to see anybody but the Steelers winning the division. They have a realistic chance of starting 10-0 and should definitely match last season’s win total of 12. How far they go in the playoffs all depends upon how the defense rounds into form.
Baltimore Ravens (+385)
New receiving additions include Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, and John Brown. Tight ends Mark Andress and Hayden Hurtst will also provide decent targets.
The run game looks strong after Alex Collins emerged as a true starting back. Kenneth Dixon could also figure into the mix after missing last year with a knee injury.
Baltimore has pieces of a good defense, including linebacker Terrell Suggs and a strong secondary. They also forced a league-high 34 turnovers in 2017.
The main cause for worry, though, is that the Ravens will face a much better crop of quarterbacks outside their division. Should-be-backups like Brett Hundley, Matt Moore, Tom Savage, and E.J. Manuel have been replaced by the likes of Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton.
Baltimore benefited from a favorable schedule last year and lucky bounces in the turnover department. It’s hard to see them matching last season’s win total, especially if they fail to sweep the Browns and Bengals.
Cincinnati Bengals (+1000)
Therefore, it’s no surprise that the Bengals upgraded in this area by drafting C Billy Price with their first pick and adding former Buffalo tackle Cordy Glenn.
The Bengals’ skilled players should shine as long as the offensive line holds up. A.J. Green is still one of the league’s best receivers, while running back Joe Mixon claimed the starting job in his rookie season. The team will also benefit from receiver John Ross actually getting a chance to play after being hurt throughout 2017.
Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap form an excellent pass-rushing duo for Cincy. The two have combined for over 60 career sacks.
LB Vontaze Burfict is another productive member of this defense when healthy. The Bengals have also added Preston Brown to the linebacking corp.
Darqueze Dennard, Dre Kilpatrick, and William Jackson form a very good secondary that limited opposing teams to just 6.5 yards per pass attempt.
Cincinnati’s defense looks strong at all three levels. Their season all depends upon how the offense performs coming off a lackluster 2017.
If everything goes right, the Bengals could make the playoffs. Furthermore, they might even be a good bet to win the division with long odds of +1000.
Cleveland Browns (+1000)
One of the biggest problems for Cleveland’s offense last year was receivers who couldn’t create separation. They went out and added Miami’s Jarvis Landry to help in this department. They also return Josh Gordon, who looked great the last few games after coming off a lengthy suspension.
The running game will also be better with the addition Carlos Hyde serving as the early down tailback. Duke Johnson should get plenty of work once again on third downs.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams helped this team improve last year, with Cleveland ranking around the middle of the league in terms of yards allowed per play and yards allowed per game. The points-per-game numbers weren’t too good, but the Browns committing 41 turnovers put the defense in difficult spots.
Adding former Green Bay corner Demarious Randall and drafting Denzel Ward in the first round should help the secondary. DE Myles Garrett will emerge as a beast, provided he doesn’t have any more injuries.
Cleveland is coming off only the second 0-16 season in NFL history. The 2018 schedule doesn’t do them any favors either, because their first eight-game stretch will be brutal. Nevertheless, we expect them to at least notch a few wins thanks to an upgraded roster.