A stacked roster, a history of winning and a future hall of fame quarterback makes the American Football Conference’s North Division the Steelers to lose.
Like the Patriots in the AFC East, the division winner is just too easy to call. None of their rivals can match up with the Steelers. Period.
After winning this division by four games last season, the Steelers are once again huge favorites (-300) to repeat as AFC North champs (odds provided by TopBet).
No other team in the NFL has a superstar trio at quarterback, running back and wide receiver as the Steelers do in Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.
Betting Numbers For The AFC North
The Ravens, who were 9-7 last season, finished second in the division. They are +425 (or 17-4 odds) to win the division this year. That means a winning $100 wager on the Ravens will return a $425 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $525.
The Bengals, who were 7-9 last season, finished third in the division. They are +1000 (10-1) to win the division this year. That means a winning $100 wager on the Bengals will return a $1,000 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $1,100.
The Browns, who did not win a game last season at 0-16, finished fourth and last for the seventh consecutive year. They are +1000 (10-1) to win the division this year. That means a winning $100 wager on the Browns will return a $1,000 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $1,100.
The Steelers, who were 13-3 last season, won their second straight division title last season. They are -300 (or 1-3 odds) to take the title again this year. That means a bettor must wager $300 to make a $100 profit for a $400 total return on the defending champs.
It’s Time To Pick A Divisional Winner
Baltimore (Last title: 2012)
The good news? The Ravens meet all three of their division rivals in the first five weeks of the regular season. The bad news? All three games are on the road where the Ravens are 6-10 in the last two years.
Joe Flacco must improve on his recent efforts and a mediocre QB rating. If he doesn’t, a young star is waiting in the wings. Baltimore drafted former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson with the last pick in the first round of the draft.
The Ravens, who must endure an early six-game stretch against five playoff teams, are looking to reach the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Cincinnati (Last title: 2015)
The Bengals have been trending in the wrong direction for a few years. It has put longtime head coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton on the hot seat.
Cincinnati won this division in 2015. The next two seasons were a mess, finishing under .500 in both. They have made few improvements to compete with their rivals, and now must play without suspended star linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the first four games.
Anything less than a spot in the playoffs this season will be considered a failure in Cincinnati. It could trigger a total revamp of the roster, including the coach.
Cleveland (Last title: 1989)
This team has won four games in three seasons and it hasn’t captured a division title in almost 30 years. How are the Browns “only” 10-1 to finish first in this division?
So, they’ve made about a dozen roster changes and drafted a top, young QB with the first overall draft pick. But that doesn’t make them contenders with the Steelers for the division crown.
Tyrod Taylor will start the season at QB, but the future is definitely dependant on their top pick in 2017 Heisman winner Baker Mayfield.
The Browns will be in the national spotlight in Week 3 when they face the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football.
Pittsburgh (Last title: 2017)
The Steelers have much more in mind than just the division title. Roethlisberger is in a contract year and if anyone is going to lead the team to the Super Bowl, the 15-year veteran is their guy.
Pittsburgh beat up on its division rivals last season, winning every game. They finished the regular season with a +98 point differential, which was an improvement from the year before.
The Steelers close the season with three of their last five games against future hall of fame quarterbacks, including Week 15 at home against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
VGB’s pick — Pittsburgh (-300). The Ravens still need to improve on the road, and the Bengals and Browns are both in the midst of rebuilding and retooling. The Steelers rate among the AFC powerhouses.
Chris Wassel is a skilled scribe who possesses a fervor for both sports and entertainment. Boasting a journalism background and over two decades of experience, he has crafted pieces that encompass a diverse array of sports including hockey, basketball, football, and others. His writing is characterized by its lucidity and sharpness, and provides a unique viewpoint on entertainment and political matters. While Chris primarily focuses on sports writing, he also writes about a wide range of subjects.