This could be the most exciting division in all of football in 2019. The new and improved Cleveland Browns have high expectations, while the steady Pittsburgh Steelers are no longer favorites. Here are the NFL preseason odds to win the AFC North.
Cleveland Browns (+135)
Odell Beckham, Jr. and Kareem Hunt were added to an offense already ripe with talent. QB Baker Mayfield is coming off one of the most impressive rookie campaigns in NFL history, and looks ready for a breakout season. Prior to the arrivals of Beckham and Hunt, the Cleveland offense included stars like Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry and David Njoku. Plus, Beckham wasn’t the only former Giant to join the Browns. DE Olivier Vernon was acquired via trade as well. There is little doubt that this is the most talented team in the division, but will it result in an AFC North crown? The last time Cleveland won a division was back in the 1989 season. At the time, the team played in the AFC Central. So, winning a division would be a first for any Browns fan under the age of 30. Yes, the Browns are favorites to win the AFC North, but FanDuel Sportsbook lists the young group as the slightest divisional favorite in all of football.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+190)
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been AFC North favorites for many years. With Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown on the roster, there was little opponents could do to slow down this offense. Now, without both superstars, Pittsburgh is putting their faith in QB Ben Roethlisberger, who just signed a contract extension. His new top weapons will be RB James Conner and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. In his rookie season, Conner rushed for 973 yards and 12 TDs in just 13 games. Smith-Schuster, meanwhile, caught 111 balls and found the end zone seven times. Needless to say, Pittsburgh has some pretty good replacements for this year’s offseason departures. It’s still reasonable to expect a dip in offensive production, though. The Steelers defense hasn’t been great in quite some time, and oddsmakers do not believe that unit will put them over the top in this division.
Baltimore Ravens (+250)
John Harbaugh really deserved more consideration for Coach of the Year in 2018. With the team sitting at 4-5, rookie QB Lamar Jackson took over under center. Thanks to a carefully crafted and perfect offensive strategy, Baltimore went on a 6-1 run, winning the division. The team’s year came to an end with a playoff loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, but Harbaugh’s coaching job earned him another contract with the Ravens. So, why is Baltimore most likely to finish third in the division this season? Many believe the team is undergoing somewhat of a rebuild. Longtime veterans Eric Weddle, Michael Crabtree and Terrell Suggs were let go. Oh, by the way, QB Joe Flacco was also traded. It’s officially Jackson’s team for the 2019 season, and growing pains are predicted. Baltimore has a 32-32 record in the past four seasons.
Cincinnati Bengals (+1400)
For a team that returns many veterans, including the same starters at QB, RB and WR, there is so much uncertainty with the 2019 Cincinnati Bengals. Zac Taylor begins his first season as head coach, taking over for Marvin Lewis. Last year’s 6-10 record was the Bengals’ third-straight losing season, although the team isn’t too far removed from a division crown. Cincinnati won the AFC North with a 12-4 record in 2015. Only the Oakland Raiders (+1600) and Miami Dolphins (+3300) have worse odds to win a division than Cincy.
Check back for more NFL division odds throughout the offseason!