At LVH Sportsbook in Las Vegas, three teams are all favored to win the AFC North. Should we expect this division to be a three-team race this season, or is there value in one specific team that we can take advantage of at this point here in the off-season?
Baltimore Ravens (+190)
The defending Super Bowl champions come in as one of the favorites to win the AFC North this off-season, and the question is have they lost too much to repeat as AFC North champions? Baltimore's defense has been almost decimated this off-season due to free-agency, but then again I did mention in my article about their Super Bowl odds that despite all they have lost, they should in fact be the favorites to win this division still. I think they have enough to repeat as AFC North champions, but with the price quoted to us at LVH, there is just not enough value to bet the Ravens this off-season. At less than 2/1, and with two other teams likely to give them trouble all season, I think the Ravens are getting the defending champion over inflation treatment. The talent is there, but the value is not and I will be looking other places for value in the AFC North future odds.
Despite their inconsistencies last season, the Steelers finished with one of the better defenses in the NFL last season. After having to watch their arch nemesis win the greatest prize in all of football, will the Steelers be motivated to keep the Ravens from advancing to a divisional crown this season? The Steelers have lost some important pieces this off-season as well, and with the question marks in the running game, as well as Ben Roethlisberger’s health, the Steelers much like the Ravens do not hold enough value in their price to win the division this season. I like them better than the Ravens a little bit, but these two teams are both aged dinosaurs in this division, and there is a team that could very well finally etch their name as divisional champs over both of them.
Cincinnati Bengals (+190)
Cincinnati may be the most improved team all around in the NFL this off-season, and Las Vegas is taking notice. If any team in the AFC North has value this off-season, it is the Cincinnati Bengals. Their defense was already solid last season and has just gotten better this season, they have one of the best quarter back to wide receiver duos in the entire NFL, and they have quietly built one of the better rosters in the AFC. They are already a playoff team in the conference, but I think this is the season they finally bud into a conference championship contender. Their defense is as good or better than either of the two teams listed above them.
Cleveland Browns (+700)
The Browns of course are not one of the favorites to win the division, but they have made some strides this offseason, and still could hold some value in the game odds this offseason. The Browns were incredibly undervalued when playing at home last season going 5-3 ATS in 2012. I think we can expect further home value from them for our NFL picks in 2013, as they get little attention from bettors and bookies alike.