2021 AFC North Divisional Futures, Predictions & Betting Odds
Baltimore was the number one see in the AFC a year ago. A season later, they remain one of the favorites to represent the American Football Conference in the Super Bowl.
The Ravens have most of the same team back, but they added some serious talent, especially defensively.
But before you go all crazy to bet on the Ravens, be aware the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns will have something to say about that. Yes, I said Cleveland.
The AFC North should be fun to watch and bet on. So, let’s break it down.
Odds To Win AFC North 2020
|Bet On The AFC North Divisional Winner At|
Baltimore Ravens -240
The Ravens offense is doomed to regress in 2020, but to no fault of their own. The numbers they put in 2019 are hard to match from year to year.
How Do The Ravens Score? We Did The Math
For example, Baltimore scored on 57.0% of their offensive possessions last year. That’s the same number posted by the 2007 Patriots, which are considered one, if not the best offense in football history.
Most of the Ravens’ scores came in the first half of games, and that paved the way for 14 wins in 16 regular-season games. 41% of Baltimore’s drives in the first half ended in a touchdown. The league’s average is 21%, and a team like Kansas City, who is widely known for their offense, scored TDs 33% of the time.
But here’s the thing. Baltimore was so good on offense last season that even by regressing, they should still be one of the best offensive units in the NFL.
Not Changing The Offense: Harbaugh
After losing to the Titans in the divisional round, coach John Harbaugh stated that he’s not changing the offense to a pass-heavy gameplan. That answer was obvious. The team will ride the Lamar Jackson train until there’s enough proof it doesn’t work. We are not there yet.
People give Jackson a lot of crap for not being a pocket passer, but he tossed up a league’s high 36 passing TDs in 2019. He will have a new weapon in 2020. The team added rookie RB JK Dobbins, who excelled in the Run-Pass Option (RPO) at Ohio State.
The Ravens’ Impressive Defense
But the more significant factor the Ravens being such big favorites is their moves on the defensive side. Baltimore had a fantastic defense last year, which got a lot better with the addition of veteran DEs Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe.
Baltimore also added LSU LB Patrick Queen with their first-round pick in the 2020 draft. Queen speed and savviness to cover the big chunks of the field make this defense even more dangerous than a year ago.
Make no mistake about it. This team is loaded on both sides of the ball.
Pittsburgh Steelers +350
The Steelers lost QB Ben Roethlisberger after just six quarters into the 2019 season. They also had subpar seasons from WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and RB James Conner, yet still finished with an 8-8 record.
The record was impressive considering how bad their offense was last year. Now that Ben is back, they should get back to being both competent and dangerous. Keep an eye on second-year WR Diontae Johnson. He led all rookies with 59 receptions, 690 yards, and five touchdowns in 2019.
Fans: “They Have A Shot At The Division!”
The Steelers fans believe they have a shot at the division, mostly because their defense was excellent a year ago, and nothing should be different in 2020. Also, if you add a capable QB like Roethlisberger to the equation, the team should win between three and four more games.
However, it’s never that simple in the NFL.
Pittsburgh led the league with 38 takeaways last season. Defenses with such an insane number of turnovers forced tend to fall short the next season. The Bears recorded 36 takeaways in 2018, but only got 19 in 2019. The Ravens led the league with 34 in 2017 and only registered 17 in 2018.
We Don’t Trust Their Defense
I expect the Steelers defense to fall short and keep this trend.
Expecting Ben Roethlisberger to elevate the franchise is a tough ask in 2020. Ben is 38-years old, he’s coming off a tricky elbow injury, and the competition in the division is nasty.
Pittsburgh represents the best value bet at +350, but things need to be perfect for them to go toe-to-toe with the Ravens.
Cleveland Browns +500
The Cleveland Browns were the biggest disappointment in the NFL in 2019. A lot of talent, all the hype in the world, and the team delivered a 6-10 record.
Out is Freddy Kitchens, and in is Kevin Stefanski as a head coach. Stefanski spent last season as the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator before landing his first major coaching job.
Culture Problems In 2019
Reports from everywhere mentioned a broken locker room, filled with big egos and little accountability. Stefanski is in Cleveland to improve the offense but mostly heal the culture.
Cleveland addressed the offensive line during the offseason. They signed RT Jack Conklin, who is a former first-round draft pick. He had a terrific run in Tennessee, but the Titans decided not to re-sign him.
The Browns also drafted LT Jedrick Wills in the first round to protect QB Baker Mayfield’s blindside. Those two moves will make the offensive line vastly better.
The idea is to give Mayfield enough protection, so there isn’t any excuse in 2020. Mayfield threw 22 touchdowns last season, but also 21 interceptions. With a better offensive line, those numbers should be a lot better.
We know Cleveland has all the talent in the world, but this might be the year we see it in full display. There is this narrative that says Odell Beckham Jr. is in a decline, yet in his last two seasons, he had over 1000 yards receiving. That’s when you know the expectations about him are unreal.
The Browns also added TE Austin Hooper from Atlanta and FB Andy Janovich from Denver. Both players will help protect Mayfield while giving coach Stefanski a lot more weapons to try different formations.
Cleveland’s Game: Also Multi-Talented
Nick Chubb recorded the second-most rushing yards in the league last season. He will share carries with Kareem Hunt, who will finally be available for the entire season.
It’s hard not to get fascinated by the Browns offense when you go name by name and position by position. I didn’t even mention WR Jarvis Landry or TE David Njoku.
On defense, the Browns added Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo as safeties, improving a secondary defense that is both young and talented.
Cincinnati Bengals +2200
I will not overextend myself because the Bengals don’t stand a chance of winning the AFC North.
Their offense will be both explosive and fun to watch. QB Joe Burrow recorded the best season for any quarterback in College Football in 2019, and he will have plenty of weapons as a rookie. WR AJ Green is back, rookie WR Tee Higgins will make a splash, and Tyler Boyd is a decent third option.
RB Joe Mixon had over 1400 yards from scrimmage in 2019. We don’t talk about him enough, but he has been the team’s workhorse in the last two seasons.
The problem with Cincinnati is their offensive line is one of the worst in the league and will prevent Burrow from doing any kind of damage in 2020.
AFC North Division Winner Prediction In 2020
Baltimore made the moves to aim for the Super Bowl in 2020. It all starts by winning the always tricky AFC North, but they have very few weaknesses compared to Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
The Ravens also have a favorable schedule. In the first five weeks of the season, they open against three teams projected to have losing records (Texans, Redskins, and Bengals) in 2020. The other two opponents in that span, Browns, and Chiefs, will have to travel to Baltimore.
They also close the year with the league’s easiest schedule facing the Jaguars, Giants, and Bengals in the last three weeks. Bet the Ravens -240 to win the AFC North.
Our AFC North Division Winner Pick
Top Online Sportsbooks To Bet On The AFC North Winner 2021
Find Us On Youtube
Get the full scoop on the AFC North Divisional futures and place your bets today.