Giving our Best Future Bets: AFC North

Cleveland Browns Recap

The Browns began the summer seeking to strengthen their defensive line group and energize their passing game after a poor 8-9 season. It looked that things would begin with a makeover of the wide receiver group because Baker Mayfield was under contract for 2022 as a result of the fully guaranteed fifth-year option the Browns selected in May 2021. Instead, the Browns executed the most stunning and disputed move of the NFL offseason — and most likely the largest deal in team history — when they acquired quarterback Deshaun Watson from the Texans in exchange for three first-round selections. In order to prepare for his defense against 22 allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, Watson missed the whole 2021-2022 season.

The Browns made other notable offseason additions besides Watson. But that addition—along with the enormous contract—is what brought the Browns to public attention, and general manager Andrew Berry wouldn’t have made the move if he hadn’t anticipated the Browns to be serious AFC contenders.

2022 odds

The NFL is pushing for a longer ban after almost two dozen women filed lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct against the quarterback, and the Browns will likely begin the season without Watson.

Watson was first given a six-game ban by NFL Disciplinary Officer Judge Sue Robinson. However, in response to widespread indignation, the league office is requesting an even harsher sanction for what it regards as predatory behavior.

Despite all of this, bookmakers continue to list the Browns’ victory total at 8.5 games. Whether the punishment is extended to eight, ten, or perhaps the full season, Cleveland will likely struggle to win nine games.

This price may still be a little excessive because the Browns might elect to replace him with Jimmy Garoppolo in the future. However, after undergoing surgery to fix a capsule injury in the back of his shoulder, Garoppolo was just recently given the all-clear to resume practicing.

The issue with dealing for Garoppolo is that training camp is already well under way, which means that if he is dealt or released, he will have even less time to learn a new offense. If Watson is suspended and the organization chooses not to pursue Jimmy G, Jacoby Brissett would start for the Browns.

Best Bets (Odds provided by Caesers Sportsbook)::

  • Nick Chubb Over 1,175.5 Rushing Yards: -115

The Cincinnati Bengals

With 34 touchdowns and just over 4,600 throwing yards, Joe Burrow shined last year. Burrow was pure fire to Ja’Marr Chase. For deep targets and yards after the catch, Chase ranked third and sixth, respectively, in the NFL.

Weekly, Chase overs were gold in the prop market. However, that was against the passing defenses’ second-easiest schedule. Burrow and the Bengals’ offense haven’t faced a top-10 passing defense in any games. Bengals receivers were second in the league in YAC, which is understandable.

The Bengals are anticipated to play the toughest schedule among passing defenses this season. The largest movement among the 32 teams. That said, I won’t be heavily backing the under on Cincinnati’s victory total for the season. It’s still Burrow, and some offensive line upgrades may help this squad remain competitive even against a more challenging schedule.

Best Bets

Chase’s longest-reception overs continue to be of fascination to me. The Bengals will play a challenging schedule, but not until much later in the season. The Burrow-Chase combination will have chances to hit on those overs in Weeks 1-6 because all six of their opponents’ defenses were rated 18th or below in terms of opponent yards per completion. After Week 6, things can become a little trickier. Seven of the 11 games left are against teams that rank in the top half of opponents for yards per completion, and six of them are against teams that rank in the top 10. Give it to me early in the season, Chase longest reception.

Bengals Future bets (Odds provided by Caesers Sportsbook):

  • Bengals O 9.5 wins: -135
  • Ja’marr Chase Over 1,225.5 Receiving Yards: -115

Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens offseason has been odd, and you may look at a Baltimore Ravens preview and have no idea where the team is. There is still no extension for Lamar Jackson. Arizona received Hollywood Brown in a trade, and the club has not yet addressed the WR group. Wink Martindale, the defensive coordinator, is now with the New York Jets.

However, all is not lost for the Ravens. Last season, they were by far the NFL team with the most injuries. After missing 2021 due to an Achilles injury, J.K. Dobbins is back. In the second part of the season, Rashad Bateman emerged as the team’s top wide receiver. The first-round selections of Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton both signaled a successful draft. Some of the most NFL-ready picks in the draft were Hamilton and Linderbaum.

The Ravens were 8-3 and the top seed in the AFC when Lamar Jackson suffered an injury in week 14 of the previous year. Now that the squad is healthy, I believe the Ravens are in position for a significant comeback season.

2022 Preview

The receiving core, which no longer includes Brown, is this group’s biggest weakness. They lack experience, therefore getting significant output from them will be challenging. Although Andrews will be their main pass catcher, Rashod Bateman is the team’s leader. Although I’m sure the offense will find a way to utilize them, defenses will stack the box knowing the ravens will probably run the ball.

There will be a dog fight in every divisional meeting. All four teams have a possibility of making the playoffs this year, including the Browns, Bengals, and Steelers. When they are ready for it, these teams’ top defenses will make it difficult for Jackson to maintain his dominance.

The Ravens’ first-round opponents outside of the division will be the AFC East. During weeks 1-4, they visit New York and New England while hosting the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. Rarely does a team begin the season by playing all four opponents in its division. The Ravens will next go to New Orleans to battle the Saints before playing Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. It may be a dangerous bet to wager on them to win 11 of the 17 games they play given their difficult schedule.

Ravens Future bets (Odds provided by Caesers Sportsbook):

  • Ravens O 9.5 wins: -160

The Pittsburgh Steelers 

The Steelers are anticipated to experience a dramatic decline in the AFC after longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement. Pittsburgh has the lowest victory total among the four AFC North teams after placing second in the league previous season.

The Steelers, who are competing at quarterback with first-round selection Kenny Pickett and newly signed Mitchell Trubisky, are expected to record their first losing season under Tomlin, according to oddsmakers.

Betting Preview

Weeks 5 through 12 of the Steelers’ schedule are the most concerning, although there are still games that they can win.

Keep in mind that this Pittsburgh team finished 6-2-1 at home the previous year. Tomlin’s team had a 7-1 record while playing in Pittsburgh the season before. The Steelers’ home schedule this season, which includes games against the Patriots, Jets, Buccaneers, Saints, Bengals, Ravens, Raiders, and Browns, isn’t particularly daunting, despite the fact that they have an additional away game.

There is a strong argument that the Steelers will surpass this victory total. Given the defense’s numerous injuries from the previous season, I’d expect them to do better than 27th against the run in 2022.

The Steelers pass defense has finished ninth or better in each of the last three seasons, despite the fact that there is room for development in that area. According to such patterns, it might be argued that their offense only has to be average in order to let their defense decide the outcome of the game.

For those reasons, I lean toward betting on the Over when it comes to the Steelers’ victory total. Nevertheless, this one will be tight any way.

Steelers Future bets (Odds provided by Caesers Sportsbook):

  • Steelers O 7.5 wins: -105

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