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Sportsbetting.com: AFC North Betting

AFC North Betting

It had been a pretty quiet off-season over in the AFC North, as the teams prepared to head for training camp, but that changed with yesterday’s news cycle and the Ben Roethlisberger story breaking.

The internet and sports talk radio buzzed throughout the day with the news that Big Ben had been named in a sexual assault civil suit. All was no longer quiet on the Northern front….

It was going to different this time. The Steelers were coming off a thrilling Super Bowl victory and determined not to have a repeat performance of the last time they headed into the off-season after hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy.

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Remember that? After beating the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, Pittsburgh endured a painful spring and summer (among the highlights: head coach Bill Cowher left the team, Ben Roethlisberger just about died in a motorcycle accident in which he wasn’t wearing a helmet, Santonio Holmes was arrested and on and on). The team never got on track for the 2006 season, resulting in the defending Super Bowl champs missing the playoffs.

That said, despite this recent news story, don’t look for a repeat of the dreadful 2006 campaign. Physically, Roethlisberger is fine, the coaching staff is back and for the most part, so is every other key starter. And Santonio Holmes wasn’t arrested.

That doesn’t mean some sports bettors weren’t looking for an edge when they heard of the controversy boiling in Steeltown.

Online sportsbook sportsbetting.com reported seeing wagering action that looks like it was triggered by the news. SPORTSBETTING.com betting analyst Mike Sullivan said they saw a flurry of money come in on the Baltimore Ravens to “Win the AFC Central Division” as the story broke and started to gain momentum. As well, bettors weighed in on the “Under” 10.5 wins “Season Win Total” for the Steelers.

The current NFL future odds have the New England Patriots as the odds-on favorite to win the AFC championship, listed at +320, followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers at +450. Slotting in behind the top two are the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers, both at +650.

Looking at the NFL odds for Super Bowl, Conference Championship and Division winner, Pittsburgh is near, or at the top of all them.

As mentioned, Pittsburgh is getting all their key parts back this season. There is no reason they shouldn’t be better than last year, barring any significant injuries.

There are two keys that point to an improved regular season record in 2009. 1) They have an easier schedule. Last year they were saddled with one of the toughest skeds in the league, and 2) that O-line, which caused so much grief in 2008, is going to be better.

Last year’s unit had four guys that were playing their position for the first time. Continuity and time spent playing together trump talent on the O-line. They will no longer be the glaring weak spot for the team.

Look for them to win their division, holding off a Raven team with Super Bowl aspirations and to take a legitimate run at 11 wins or more, going “Over” their Season Win Total number of 10.5. Running down the schedule, it’s not hard to see 11 wins for this year’s squad.

Current AFC North odds

Cleveland Browns 11 – 1

Cincinnati Bengals 10 – 1

Baltimore Ravens 16 – 5

Pittsburgh Steelers 2 – 5

Check the updated NFL Lines at one of our top sportsbooks for NFL betting — SPORTSBETTING.COM

By Tony Epstein

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