The AFC North could be one of the most competitive divisions in all of football this year. Last year three teams made the playoffs and won over 10 games. What will happen this year? Let’s take a look at each team and see if there are any bets that are worthwhile. If you want expert picks, look no further than the Futures card from BTB and BTBJesse. This year has 6 MAX plays for college and NFL futures, there is still time to get on-board.
Last year: 12-4, first in division
The Steelers are getting old. Ben Roethlisberger has basically had tree trunks as legs for five years now and has played only one full season in his last six. That may be a bit misleading, because he didn’t play in game 16 last year because they locked up the division. In any case, if Ben goes down, their season is over. If he doesn’t they have some of the more talented offensive skill players in football. If Fantasy Football analysts are any indication, Najee Harris is going to be the best running back in all of football. Can their defense improve enough to keep up with the offenses of Baltimore and Cleveland? They have a total of 8.5 for the season. I have them at eight wins and a couple maybes. I’m going to avoid the total. I do like Najee Harris over 7.5 rushing touchdowns at -125.
Last year: 11-5, second in division
Lamar Jackson wasn’t nearly as good as his MVP season, but still turned in a really nice campaign and led the Ravens to the playoffs. He’s had back-to-back years of seven rushing touchdowns. With an extra game to play, can he make it to eight touchdowns this year? The juice is on the under, and his rushing yards took a hit last year, but I do feel confident that he will make it into the endzone eight times. I’m not playing it, but I’d lean over. Speaking of rushing, under Team Specials, the Ravens have a -110 price on over 2950.5 rushing yards as a team for the season. The past two years they have been over 3,000 yards. I’ll play the over.
Last year: 11-5, third in division
Baker Mayfield goes into the 2021 season with the same coach from last year, something he never could say before this season. Mayfield, in his second year with Stefanski should have a better understanding of the offense and if Odell Beckham Jr. comes back as one of the best receivers in football… well, look out. Offensively, they can matchup with just about any team in the NFL. Their defense has continued to improve and they made a couple of nice additions in the offseason. I see a total for the Browns of 10.5. I love the over for that and believe they have every opportunity to cash that with a couple games to spare.
Last year: 4-11-1, last in division
The Bengals might be working towards building a nice team, but right now it will still be another painful year. Joe Burrow comes back and after looking like a leading Rookie of the Year candidate, he has more questions to answer than in his rookie, injury shortened campaign. This year he is reunited with his former college receiver Ja’Marr Chase. I expect him to be peppered with targets and with the Browns needing to rely on Burrow’s arm to bring them back into games, I expect Chase to eclipse his touchdown total of seven for the season at -120. Joe Mixon could be a difference maker if he stays healthy all season, but that has been a challenge – he’s only played one full season in his four years. I’d love to bet the over on his 1325.5 rushing/receiving yards but I can’t simply due to health.
- David Troy
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