As we get closer to the start of NFL training camp and the preseason, it’s a good time to start thinking about where our money might go when we wager. While some bettors are content to play a few games each week, others want it all, including playing the potential division winners before the season begins. That is what we are going to look at this week, as it’s fun to break down each individual division before a single down is played. Today, we will be starting out with the AFC North, which many have as a 2-horse race between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns. That seems like a pretty fair assessment, but let’s take a closer look to see if we agree with that statement. I am rating the teams in the order in which I believe they will finish. Let’s get right to it so you can get all set to plan your bets and place them against their AFC North Division odds.
NFL Picks to win the 2021 AFC North
Baltimore Ravens (+135)
The Ravens are in as slight favorites to win the division this season and I believe they will come out on top. They have made a lot of moves this offseason to strengthen their team, particularly on the O-Line and the defensive side of the football. This is a team that has win 25 regular season games over the past 2 seasons, so I don’t see any sign of them slowing down, with a 12- or 13-win season certainly not out of the realms of possibility. Whether their regular season success finally carries over into the postseason remains to be seen.
Cleveland Browns (+140)
I was very tempted to take the Browns to finish first, but I am still not 100% sure that Baker Mayfield is the man to take them to a division title and a deep postseason run. They will have Odell Beckham Jr back and healthy, plus they have shored up their defense this offseason, which was basically what let them down last year. Making the playoffs and winning the Wild Card Game was a good first step for this Browns team and I think they can at least match that. It would not be a huge surprise to see them come out on top of the North this season.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+350)
It is perhaps a little safe to go with the bookies in their assessment of the division, but I really do believe this is how things will play out. The Steelers went into the offseason with some real salary cap issues. They have addressed those, but also lost some talent along the way, the biggest of which was probably Bud Dupree. Big Ben Roethlisberger will be back for one more season, albeit behind an O-Line that is going to look very different. The Steelers D was outstanding last season and will steal a couple of games this year, but not enough to win a division.
Cincinnati Bengals (+1400)
From what we saw before Joe Burrow got injured last season, the Bengals have themselves the franchise QB that they so desperately needed. The downside is that there are a lot more pieces that need to be put in place before this team can be considered a threat to win the division. They are probably still at least a couple of years away from being truly competitive, so they will almost certainly be in the AFC North cellar this season.