2017 AFC North Title Betting Odds - Pick and Analysis
The AFC North is one of the more lopsided division races on the board according to BetOnline’s updated futures odds to with this season’s title. You have Pittsburgh way at the top, both Baltimore and Cincinnati muddled in the middle and Cleveland set as one of the biggest longshots ever to win a division title.
It was not all that long ago that the AFC North Division title was up for grabs each season between three of the four teams. Pittsburgh has now won the title in two of the past three seasons and the gap between the Steelers and the rest of the competition continues to widen.
Pittsburgh Steelers -150
The Steelers won the AFC North in 2016 with a record of 11-5 and their projected win total for this season has been set at 10.5 with the moneyline odds currently favoring the OVER at -130. Veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is back for at least one more season and with Antonio Brown heading up the receiving corps and Le’Veon Bell anchoring the running game, Pittsburgh should one again be one of the most dominant offenses in the NFL.
The big question is just how far will this team go in 2017? After bowing out of last year’s playoffs in a loss to New England in the conference title game, the answer could lie in veteran head coach Mike Tomlin’s ability to get his defense playing at the same elevated level as his offense on a consistent week by week basis.
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Baltimore Ravens +260
Following a very disappointing five-win campaign in 2015, the Ravens were able get back to .500 last season at 8-8. It is too early to tell if this year’s offseason personnel moves will further close the gap with Pittsburgh, but it could be safe to say that head coach John Harbaugh could find himself on the hot seat if his team slips backwards this season. This will be his 10th season at the helm and he has produced a winning team in six of his first nine years in Baltimore.
Joe Flacco also bounced back last year after a less than stellar effort in 2015, but the expectation level for the 10-year vet still remains higher than what he has been able to deliver ever since he led this team to a Super Bowl title in 2012. It also does not help his cause that the Ravens decided to use their top four draft picks on the defensive side of the ball.
Cincinnati Bengals +350
If long-time head coach Marvin Lewis is not already on the hot seat in Cincinnati, he should be. The Bengals at one time were probably the most talented team in this division; however in their five-straight runs to the postseason from 2011 to 2015, they were eliminated in their opening game each time. Last year this team slid to 6-9-1 on the year and it could actually slide even further backwards in 2017.
The one big plus will be a healthy AJ Green in the lineup after the perennial All-Pro missed six games last year due to injury. Cincinnati also added wide receiver John Ross and running back Joe Mixon in the draft, but I am not sure that either player can make an impact right out of the gate.
Cleveland Browns +5000
Cleveland is still Cleveland and that is why the Browns do have such long odds to win a division title. Their projected win total for 2017 stands at 4.5 wins as one of the lowest numbers on the board and you would have to go back to the 2007 regular season to find the last time Cleveland posted a winning record. Hue Jackson will get another chance to turns things around as the team’s sixth head coach in nine seasons, but he still has very little to work with when it comes to overall talent.
The Browns decided pass on a quarterback in this year’s draft to bolster their defense with Myles Garrett upfront and Jabrill Peppers in the secondary after this unit ranked near the bottom of the league in almost every major category last season. Unfortunately, little was done this offseason to bolster an offense that was just as bad.
2017 AFC North Prediction
It is hard to go against Pittsburgh winning this division again in 2017. Baltimore showed signs of turning things around last season, but the gap in talent between the Steelers and the other three AFC North teams is still too wide, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
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