AFC North Odds 2018 – Previews & Betting Analysis

leveon-bell-vs-new-englandThe Pittsburgh Steelers come in as the division favorites once again. Their loaded offense looks to keep them on top of the AFC North.

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)

antonio-brown-steelersBen 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)

joe-flaccoJoe Flacco has yet to recapture the magic he had during Baltimore’s 2013 Super Bowl title run. But the Ravens’ aren’t ready to go away from him yet and upgraded the receiving corp to help Flacco.

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)

aj-green-footballCincinnati had a terrible offensive start last season and fired coordinator Ken Zampese after just two games. But much of these problems can also be blamed on a weak offensive line.

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)

myles-garrett-cleveland-injuryCleveland’s plan on offense is to start veteran Tyrod Taylor and see where things go. Assuming the Browns don’t rack up too many wins, we should see first-overall pick Baker Mayfield eventually.

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.

Steelers Put Martavis Bryant on the Trade Block – 5 Teams where He could Go

martavis-bryant-2018-tradePittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant clearly wasn’t happy with his role last season. He was especially unhappy with seeing rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster pass him on the depth chart.

But head coach Mike Tomlin said that there was no way Bryant would be going anywhere in 2017.

“He was out of bounds in what he said … it will be dealt with,” said Tomlin. “I’ll visit with him at some point … he’s a good guy to work with in the building and has been.”

It looks like the organization has had a change of heart, though, about shopping their disgruntled receiver. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Pittsburgh is listening to potential deals on Bryant.

What can Bryant do for Teams?

Martavis Bryant is no doubt a very talented receiver. The 6’4″ target runs a 4.4 forty and had solid hands too. His combination of height and speed is what makes him so dangerous to opposing teams on deep balls.

martavis-bryant-2018-trade-1The Clemson man was really building momentum in his first two seasons, tallying 549 and 745 receiving yards in 2014 and 2015, respectively. But his career hit a snag when he was suspended for all of 2016 after multiple substance-abuse violations.

Bryant returned in 2017, but didn’t gain much traction early on in a reduced role. He also complained about playing time and was benched for a short while. He ended the year with 605 receiving yards and a career-low three touchdowns.

Considering his potential, though, Bryant could be a huge bargain for his $705,000 base salary next season. And given that Pittsburgh has Antonio Brown and Schuster, they can afford to part with their talented wideout.

5 Teams that Bryan could be Traded to

1. Buffalo Bills

According to CBS, the Buffalo Bills made a play for Bryant last season. And given that their receiving core isn’t significantly better, it doesn’t seem like they’ve lost interest in him. Tight end Charles Clay led the team with 558 receiving yards, while prized rookie wideout Zay Jones caught just 27 of 74 intended passes. The team traded for Kelvin Benjamin, but they could no doubt use more help in this department.

2. Washington Redskins

Washington traded for Kansas City QB Alex Smith, signaling that they’re not going to give Kirk Cousins a big deal. And their top receiver is Jamison Crowder, who’s not a big-play threat. Adding Bryant to the fray would help make Smith’s transition to the nation’s capital much easier.

3. Chicago Bears

The Bears are another team without a top-flight wide receiver. And they even gave former Steeler Markus Wheaton a chance to fill this role, although he didn’t have any success. Young QB Mitchell Trubisky needs some weapons, and Bryant would be a nice start.

4. Miami Dolphins

Miami could pay Jarvis Landry to retain his services. Or they could let him walk and pursue Bryant or another wideout. This will all come down to how much the Dolphins are willing to shell out for a guy who’s become a star under their watch.

5. San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco landed their quarterback of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo. But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. They now need to add more talent to their roster, especially on offense. Bryant would be a great step in this direction, considering his speed, height, and hands.

As for Pittsburgh, they could really use a good defensive player, or at least draft picks to land multiple prospects. Again, they’re pretty set in the receiving department. And they also have star running back Le’Veon Bell along with veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger.

But what they lack is pass rushers and elite secondary players. That said, look for them to shop Bryant for a defensive player or two.