AFC North Winner Picks

by | Last updated Jul 28, 2022 | nfl

Last season saw one of the more tightly-contested divisions in football with the AFC North, with the Bengals taking it down at just 10-7, with the last-place Browns and Ravens not far back at 8-9. Therefore, you have a division that is seen as having a lot of parity with the top three teams separated from just +160 to +275. Cincinnati was able to finish strong and win the division, eventually representing the conference in the Super Bowl. But the fact that a last-place team from 2021 now sits atop the list of favorites to win the AFC North should tell us this is one of the more up-for-grabs divisions in the NFL. Let’s break it down! All odds are by Bovada Sportsbook, where you’ll receive a 50% real cash bonus, be able to bet on games live in progress and where you receive a rebate on ALL your wagers; even if they win! Click here to sign up now! They’re incredible!

Baltimore Ravens (+160)

Decimated by injuries last season, the simple projection of those guys coming back and the Ravens getting some better luck on that front makes them a compelling choice to win this division. Only a few games behind last season with everything going wrong, the Ravens face a fork-in-the-road type season where one can imagine them putting a lot into this year. A healthy Lamar Jackson looms large in this division and even if he has an injury setback, Tyler Huntley proved himself a worthy backup last season. The returning JK Dobbins offers the running game another potential gear. And first-round draft picks S Kyle Hamilton and C Tyler Linderbaum offer relief where the Ravens can use some. A few things bode well for a resurgence in 2022 after missing the playoffs for the first time in three years. One of the best drafts in the league offers a spark. A more-comfortable Jackson being given the stuff where he can win also helps, as a big season from him should be projected. They will be stronger along both lines of scrimmage and there’s a chance that Dobbins and another back could really flourish in this offense. And in a division like this with so much give and take, it’s not going to take a 14-win campaign to get it done, as the Ravens could take this down with 11 or 12 wins. A compelling choice, even for a team coming off a sub-.500 season and getting a chalky +160 rate.

Cincinnati Bengals (+190)

I suppose one could forecast a hangover for a Bengals team that developed ahead of schedule last season, caught fire at the right time, and came close to Super Bowl glory. On the other hand, it seems like a weird time to jump off a rising team that showed they can see their potential manifest in a meaningful way. If anything, couldn’t the validation that comes from the postseason run they made last season make them a more stable regular season force in 2022? The core of their offense is still in tow with QB Joe Burrow, receivers Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tyler boyd, along with RB Joe Mixon. Adding some real cause for optimism are the additions they made. And while there were some personnel losses, adding guys like La’el Collins, Alex Cappa, and Ted Karras to the O-line give this offense a potential boost. First-round safety Daxton Hill out of Michigan gives them another nice prospect in the backfield. If this defense can hold up their end of the deal, it bodes well. On offense, the thought is that the strengthening of the front will allow Burrow and youngsters like Chase to find another gear. And if the best WR package in the NFL gets better with other parts of the team following suit, last season will go down not as an aberration, but a legitimate changing of the guard in the AFC North. Note: Predictem NFL Handicapper Kevin West is taking a large position on the Bengals to win the AFC North. He believes the team has made numerous upgrades that will help them make another run taking the team deep into the playoffs (assuming players stay healthy).

Cleveland Browns (+275)

One of the bigger-range teams on the entire NFL board this season, the Browns are a big question mark, but one where there is genuine upside. The whole Deshaun Watson issue isn’t decided and even if he’s a go, will he not be rusty after missing all of last season? They didn’t get a draft pick until the third round, so they might not get much in that area. Cincinnati and Baltimore look like they might be stronger this season, so a lot of things would make one hesitant to pull the trigger on the Browns and understandably so.

Then again, the addition of Watson bolsters a roster that is among the strongest in the league. Adding Jadeveon Clowney could help free Myles Garrett, who could be Defensive Player of the Year this season. The addition of Amari Cooper could give some variety to an offense that will be among the league’s best in running the ball with Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson. And their depth across all phases of the defense could really resonate this season. But again, a lot hinges on Watson and as of press time, things aren’t looking so good.

Pittsburgh Steelers (+1000)

Frankly, there are worse 10-to-1 divisional shots in the league. The Steelers turn the page on Ben Roethlisberger and the situation might not look that great on paper. The QB situation is up in the air, with Mitch Trubisky and rookie first-rounder Kenny Pickett duking it out for the starting gig. Whoever wins the job inherits an offensive-line whose poor form only hastened Big Ben’s exit and completely undermined this entire offense last season. And the three teams they have to beat out all seem better. But within the grey clouds, maybe you can see the sun peeking through if you look hard enough.

While we more or less know about Trubisky, barring he picked something up backing up Josh Allen in Buffalo last season, Pickett is an X-factor and we won’t know until we know. The Steelers seem quite adept at regenerating their playmaking corps, with Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Pat Freiermuth, and Najee Harris giving an incoming QB a chance to thrive in spite of that line. But maybe a more-mobile QB in either Trubisky or Pickett can help camouflage that issue better, while playmakers on the other side of the ball like TJ Watt can help bridge the gap to get Pittsburgh back on the upswing. It’s a bit hard to envision, but not an altogether lost cause at +1000.

Loot’s Pick to Win the AFC North Division: Cincinnati Bengals at +190. Seems like the most-solid choice and the team with less overall question marks and injury concerns, though losing Burrow would be curtains. With the Ravens, you need an upswing, the Browns have the whole Watson issue to deal with, and the Steelers will need a lot of stars to align to keep pace.

Be sure to check out Loot’s Super Bowl LVII predictions!