Pittsburgh Steelers have been the dominant force in the AFC North Division in recent seasons, but they face a serious challenge from bookies favourites Cleveland Browns this time.
Could this be the Browns’ Year?
For several years now, the Cleveland Browns have been regarded as one of the weakest teams in the NFL, but that changed abruptly last season. After a slow start, they went on a run of five wins in their last seven, and while that wasn’t quite enough to secure a play-off spot, they are expected to continue that momentum in 2019. Led by rising quarterback start Baker Mayfield, they have also added strength and experience in Odell Beckham Jr, Kareem Hunt and Olivier Vernon, and bookmakers are taking no chances making them the narrow 6/4 favourites in the AFC North.
Steelers Still Strong
The high profile departures of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell have led some pundits to write off the Pittsburgh Steelers this season, but that may be a little premature. In JuJu Smith-Schuster, they have a prodigiously talented wide receiver, while their defense looks stronger and Ben Roethlisberger is one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. The Browns will pose a serious threat this season but the Steelers are not far behind, as indicated by odds of 7/4 in the AFC North winners’ market.
Ravens to Regress
Baltimore were surprise Division winners last season, but they will find it hard to repeat that effort. Lamar Jackson is a star, but there is a limit to what he can achieve with a lacklustre set of wide receivers and a shaky offensive line, while opposing teams have had a season to work him out. Bookmakers are taking no chances, however, and they are rated as a 3/1 chance.
Bengals Tipped to Finish Bottom
The Bengals finished bottom of the Division last season and while they are far from being the worst team in the NFL, they could be set for another season of struggle. Their 2018 campaign was derailed by a string of injuries, and with a little more luck on that front, their solid defense and the dynamism of tight end Tyler Eifer will give Bengals fans some hope. Still, they haven’t strengthened much in the off-season and this is a tough Division, which explains why they are 20/1 outsiders.