The NFL is currently the only thing providing sports fans with any real entertainment and we now have futures odds so…LET’S TALK ABOUT IT. In this particular piece we are going to talk about the AFC North.
History would suggest…
Now, typically I am not one to harp on history when predicting the future in sports but continuity is incredibly important in football and some organizations are well run (Pittsburgh) while others are historically not (Cleveland). Since 2010, three of the four teams in the division have at least one division title with the exception of…you guessed it. Sorry, Cleveland. Over the last ten seasons the Ravens and Steelers have each won four titles and the Bengals have won two. Two of Baltimore’s total have come in each of the past two seasons.
Given that they boast arguably the best quarterback in the league in 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson along with what will almost assuredly be another stout defense, the Baltimore Ravens are currently the odds on favorite to win the AFC North at -200.
The loss of Hayden Hurst will hurt as he was a nice young talent but the defense has added veteran Calais Campbell which will only make them stronger. Jackson is the type of quarterback is going to make things happen regardless of who is around him and Mark Ingram looked like an every-down back last season after slimming down.
The Ravens are the obvious choice to win the division but there is just no value at (-200) and they are just one Lamar Jackson hit away from not being the favorite.
The Value Plays
Vegas has done you a favor here. Sure the Ravens are easily the favorite but we are gambling here. The Steelers at (+350) across the board are a fine bet with the return of future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the addition of Eric Ebron in recent days. Remember how much Andrew Luck loved Eric Ebron? I have a feeling Big Ben is going to love that huge catch radius as well. If everyone can stay healthy, which is always risky, this team has all the pieces.
Believe it or not, Cleveland is a great value this season as well. The Browns are around +500. Baker Mayfield suffered through a horrible second season throwing 21 picks but I am not sure that’s all on him. This team just solidified their offensive line by signing Jake Conklin and gave Mayfield a great safety net in Austin Hooper. Newly minted head coach Kevin Stefanski made Kirk Cousins look competent, why not Baker Mayfield with a ton more weapons?
No thanks, I’m driving
The Cincinnati Bengals bring up the rear at +2000. There is no value in a losing bet and there just isn’t any way that this team is ready to contend with Ryan Finley as their quarterback. I like Joe Mixon, I like some of their pieces on defense but the coach-quarterback combination is the most important combination in professional sports and this club just doesn’t seem to have it right now.
If you are the type of guy that takes the Metlife 1.4% 401K growth and you’re happy, go with the Ravens. Put ten units down and enjoy your $500. It’s $500 more than you had. Me? I am going to hope Stefanski can come up with a way to keep Odell Beckham happy (does anyone get paid enough to attempt that?) and utilize all the weapons on the offensive side of the football. The defense has some guys that can play as well, if they are healthy they can improve.
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