2019 AFC North Divisional Futures Predictions
The Cleveland Browns are favored to win the AFC North for the first time since I can remember.
Yes, your beloved Brownies, the franchise that has been a laughingstock for the past 20 years, have something to look forward to this season. Things are changing in the NFL, especially in AFC North and that is somehow refreshing.
Last season the Baltimore Ravens came from behind and stripped the AFC North title from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ hands. Both franchises will be in contention to win the division again, even if the Browns happen to be on everyone’s mind.
Far behind are the Cincinnati Bengals, who finally fired Marvin Lewis last season. 2019 will be the first season for Cincy’s significant reconstruction plan to get back in contention.
Odds To Win AFC North 2019
Cleveland Browns +150 – Bet On The Browns
It took GM John Dorsey two years to turn around the Browns franchise from laughingstock to a divisional favorite. Not many teams in the entire NFL possess the talent that Cleveland has on both sides of the ball.
It is not talent only. When thinking about the tandem between QB Baker Mayfield and the new addition, WR Odell Beckham Jr., one must imagine it’s going to be fun to watch. Cleveland has never won the AFC North since the realignment in 2002.
Pittsburgh Steelers +160
With the rest of the world falling in love with the Browns, the Steelers are a low-key good bet inside the division. They are right there in terms of talent, although the franchise has never been a flashy one, going back to their glory years in the 1970s.
Pittsburgh hopefully saw all their drama leave the door when Antonio Brown was traded to Oakland and Le’Veon Bell took a free-agent deal with the NY Jets. The Steelers can now breathe after being held hostage by those two players in 2018.
Baltimore Ravens +275
The Baltimore Ravens are the third option in this scenario for two reasons. Not many trust that QB Lamar Jackson can repeat his performance from last season when he took the league by surprise with his unique style.
But it’s not only that. The Ravens lost a lot of players on defense that could be hard to replace. Those were experienced veterans that played a significant role on that side of the ball.
Cincinnati Bengals +2000
The Bengals spent 16 years under head coach Marvin Lewis and won zero playoffs games. The franchise enters a new regime under head coach Zac Taylor.
Taylor is only 36-years old and has benefited from being around Sean McVay, the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. Cincinnati may not be one of the worst teams in the NFL. However, they don’t have good enough talent to win the division either.
2019 NFL AFC North Divisional Pick – Cleveland Browns +150
Writing the Cleveland Browns will win the AFC North is somehow funny and uncomfortable. The franchise has been such a laughingstock for so long that it makes you wonder if somehow, they are going to find the way to blow this.
When looking the talent on their roster, it’s almost impossible to find a match inside the division. Cleveland has a superstar team on offense.
QB Baker Mayfield broke Peyton Manning’s record of touchdowns thrown by a rookie quarterback last season. Mayfield also did it by starting two fewer games than Manning. He now has Odell Beckham Jr. on one side of the ball and Jarvis Landry on the other. Just having OBJ with something to prove is scary enough.
The rest of the offense is excellent, as well. The Browns have a solid tight end in David Njoku, especially in the red zone. Tailback Nick Chubb was four yards shy from a 1000-yard season in 2018 despite sharing the load with Carlos Hyde early in the year.
Cleveland’s Stacked Roster
Chubb should have a breakout year during his sophomore season. And if that’s not enough, Cleveland will get RB Kareem Hunt to boost their offense in the second half of the season coming out of suspension.
The other side is just as good. Myles Garrett is a lowkey stud on the defensive line. He recorded 13.5 sacks in his second year, and it’s aiming for 15+ this season. Not to mention, the defensive line picked DT Sheldon Richardson in free agency and traded for Oliver Vernon out of the Giants. Two considerable additions to an already outstanding D-line.
The secondary defense added rookie cornerback Greedy Williams, who happened to be one of the best defensive backs of his class. Williams will play across from Denzel Ward who made Defensive Rookie of the Year noise in 2018. Both covered by veteran safety Damarious Randall, who recorded four interceptions last year.
The Browns are not only talented enough to win the AFC North division, but they should aim for one of the higher seeds inside the AFC. It sounds crazy, but this is a Super Bowl-winning roster.
Three Things Going Against The Browns.
The Browns look great in all phases of the game. However, I think there are three things that might impact the team negatively.
- They have a rookie coach in Freddy Kitchens.
- Second, after all, they remain the Cleveland Browns.
- And third, the Steelers will have something to say about it.
Pittsburgh is good enough to reclaim the division title, especially with the defense that they are putting together. The matchups between those teams will decide the winner of the division.
I look at the Browns’ roster and I see nothing but playmakers all over the place. Anything but winning the AFC North title should be considered a failure from Cleveland. I almost feel it’s Super Bowl or bust. As crazy as that might sound.
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