NFL Handicapping: The AFC North
Looking for 2018 AFC North Predictions? Only a handful of times over the past few seasons has a division had as clear-cut a favorite as the AFC North does this year. Last season, the Steelers had such an easy run through the regular season, they were basically just killing time until the AFC title game and a rematch with the Patriots.
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NFL Handicapping Insight
This year, the Steelers are the clear-cut favorites again, but will they again have as easy a path through the regular season?
2018 AFC North Predictions: Cincinnati Bengals
Bengals Odds to Win 2018 Super Bowl: +9000
Bengals Odds to Win 2018 AFC Conference: +4500
Bengals Odds to Win 2018 AFC North Division: +1000
The Bengals have a lot of faith in this core group that hasn’t sniffed the promised land. Marvin Lewis will again lead an offense that’s heavily reliant on Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, and a defense that runs through Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap up front, a homegrown secondary, and Vontaze Burfict leading the linebacking corps.
We’ve seen the highs and lows of this group in recent years, and there’s definitely a wide variance in potential outcomes, making the Bengals difficult to handicap. But it’s that unpredictably that makes them tough to back over the long-term.
2018 AFC North Predictions: Cleveland Browns
Browns Odds to Win 2018 Super Bowl: +9000
Browns Odds to Win 2018 AFC Conference: +5500
Browns Odds to Win 2018 AFC North Division: +1200
The Browns are 1-31 over the past two seasons. While they made some nice additions in the offseason, you’d have to think they’re still a long way away from being able to make a run at a team like the Steelers. The Browns’ offense may have gotten better, but would anyone say they’re at the Steelers’ level? Are they even on the Steelers’ level on the defensive side of the ball, for that matter?
2018 AFC North Predictions: Baltimore Ravens
Ravens Odds to Win 2018 Super Bowl: +4000
Ravens Odds to Win 2018 AFC Conference: +1800
Ravens Odds to Win 2018 AFC North Division: +425
On the surface, the Ravens had a pretty ordinary offseason. Sure, they completely overhauled their receiving corps, but other than that, not a whole lot going on. But upon closer inspection, this really has the feel of the team’s core pushing its limited chips to the center of the table.
General manager Ozzie Newsome is out after this season, head coach John Harbaugh’s job security came into question over the offseason, and quarterback Joe Flacco saw the team trade back into the first round to draft a quarterback. They may still lack the horses to win it all, but this will be a motivated group come September.
2018 AFC North Predictions: Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers Odds to Win 2018 Super Bowl: +900
Steelers Odds to Win 2018 AFC Conference: +500
Steelers Odds to Win 2018 AFC North Division: -300
The Steelers must have been so disappointed heading into last season after looking past the Jaguars in the divisional round. And yet there seems to be a lot of optimism around the team’s core players entering this year.
Ben Roethlisberger says he’s committed to playing another three seasons after talking about retirement last offseason, Le’Veon Bell may not have gotten his monster contract extension, but he’s looking to have his best year as a pro to get that contract next offseason, and all signs point to another video game-type season from Antonio Brown.
Couple that with some under the radar but savvy moves by the front office on the defensive side of the ball, and the Steelers are the real deal once again. They should face little resistance inside their division and again challenge the AFC’s elite teams in January.
Cappers Picks 2018 AFC North Predictions
The Browns have earned a lot of media buzz this offseason, and maybe rightfully so, but from a divisional futures betting perspective, they’re still at least another year away from any sort of legitimate consideration.
The Bengals are such a boom or bust type team that it’s really difficult to get behind them when there’s at least an equal chance they fall flat on their face, as we’ve seen them fail to win the division even at their best.
The Ravens certainly want to be in this conversation, but Flacco’s contract really puts them behind the 8-ball from a personnel perspective. The Steelers are the clear-cut favorites, but a their current price, it’s best to look elsewhere for value when playing the futures board.
What do you think about our 2018 AFC North Predictions? Please leave us a comment below telling us how you think they’ll do in the 2018-2019 NFL Season!
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