2017 AFC North Preview: Catch Pittsburgh If You Can

Doug Upstone

Thursday, August 3, 2017 4:21 PM UTC

Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017 4:21 PM UTC

If there is one team given a chance to knock off the New England Patriots juggernaut in the AFC, it is Pittsburgh. Offensively, the Steelers are the Pats' peer, but it will come down to the Pittsburgh defense.

Cincinnati and Baltimore could apply mild pressure to Pittsburgh in the AFC North, but both have areas of concern and with Joe Flacco having back problems already, the Ravens would have serious offensive limitations. Cleveland remains in a rebuilding process and nobody can tell yet if the Browns are really coming along. Here is our AFC North preseason preview with opinions from some of my sharp betting friends and my thoughts blended in. All the NFL odds listed are courtesy of Bookmaker.

Updated Super Bowl, Conference, And Division FuturesPittsburgh Steelers

With Ben Roethlisberger considering retirement in the offseason, there is more a sense of urgency to win now. If should be noted Roethlisberger does a touch of Brett Favre in him and loves the drama. ... Impressed coach Mike Tomlin is taking offense to having Le'Veon Bell carry the load and saving hits on Big Ben. ... With Bell, Antonio Brown and the offensive line, they each rank in the Top 3 in football in their respective positions. ... On defense, Cameron Wake and Ryan Shazier have to be healthy all year for the Steelers defense to improve. .... With Roethlisberger injury-prone, betting 'over' 11 is risky business for NFL picks.

Odds To Win Division (as of 8/3)

Pittsburgh -150

Cincinnati +342

Baltimore +395

Cleveland +5505


Cincinnati Bengals

Not sure where this franchise is. Injuries were a big part of last year's 6-9-1 season and so was indifference from those on the field.  ... Cincinnati will never win a Super Bowl with Marvin Lewis as head coach, but they do not trust themselves to find and pay somebody more money to win in the postseason.  ... Andy Dalton is a modestly above average quarterback who cannot win without a running game and exceptional talent around him.  ... Defense slipped last season and showed little passion when it counted, look for them to bounce back.  ... Vontaze Burfict should be the best inside linebacker in the NFL, instead he's a punk. ... All agree the Bengals at 'over' 8 is a good wager.

Season Win Totals (as of 8/3)

Pittsburgh Un11

Cincinnati Ov8

Baltimore (TBD)

Cleveland Ov4


Baltimore Ravens

With Flacco having a back injury, the franchise could be in peril. Colin Kaepernick is best available pickup for Baltimore, but infighting within management about public relations. My question is does he still have the zest to play anymore? ... Front office is known as being smart, so why have they not had a running game for three of last four years to protect immobile Flacco? ... Too many veteran players on this roster whose best years are behind them. ... Even if Flacco is healthy, not one receiver will demand special attention and fight to catch a pass. ... Defense dominated bad offenses in 2016, but was shoved around by those who had real skill. ... At best, 8-8 team that misses playoffs again.

Odds To Win AFC (as of 8/3)

Pittsburgh +615 (2nd in AFC)

Cincinnati +2520 (11th)

Baltimore (TBD)

Cleveland +9500 (15th)


Cleveland Browns

Not an ounce of organizational competency in Cleveland. Look how they keep screwing up the quarterback position. Maybe rookie DeShone Kizer will save their incompetence long term. ... Offensive line is best aspect of Browns' team, led by future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas. ... Thought they did real well in the draft and they need immediate production from Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers on defense. ... Isaiah Crowell excelled behind talented offense line and his confidence grew along with his vision in the hole. ... Not sure Gregg Williams is best choice for defensive coordinator, with Cleveland needing to make stops consistently, not the occasional big plays. ... Four wins looks right on the nose for Browns.

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