The AFC North is one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. Over the past five years, three teams have had their turn winning the division crown. Only the Cleveland Browns haven’t won the division in the past half-decade.
According to sportsbook Sportsbook, the Baltimore Ravens are favored to win the division with odds of -105. The Cincinnati Bengals, who won the division in 2021 with a 10-7 record, are right behind Baltimore with odds of +175.
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Who Leads AFC North Betting Odds?
Odds as of October 6th at Sportsbook
AFC North Division Favorites
Baltimore Ravens (-105)
The Ravens finished the 2021 season at the bottom of the AFC North with an 8-9 record and a 1-5 divisional record. They closed out the season on a six-game losing streak. So why are they favored to win the division they were far from winning in 2021?
A clean bill of health, that’s why. The Ravens enter the 2022 campaign much healthier than they were in 2021. Key players like running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards were both injured before the season began a year ago. For a team that relies on a running game like the Ravens, losing both was a massive blow to their chances.
And while the Ravens did bottom out in the AFC North, they kept games close in that final six-game stretch, with only one of the six losses coming by more than three points. That was a 20-point loss to the Bengals in December. In fact, three of the six losses to close out 2021 were by a single point.
With a clean bill of health, there’s no reason to think the Ravens can’t pick up where they left off in 2020 when they posted an 11-5 record.
The Ravens’ AFC championship odds are the fifth best at +1000.
AFC North Division Value Pick
Cincinnati Bengals (+175)
All right, getting an extra +30 over the favorites isn’t exactly “value” but would you bet on the Cleveland Browns to finish at the top of this division? No, of course, you wouldn’t. They might have two great running backs, but the Browns don’t have a proper quarterback to start the year after Deshaun Watson’s suspension following the revelations of his disgusting behavior.
After the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger last year, the Steelers are in the same situation as the Browns for the first time in decades. They don’t have a starting QB. Sure, Mitch Trubisky has played in the league before, but he’s a stop-gap solution for the Steelers. Would you pick them to win the division at +850? No, of course not.
That leaves the Bengals at +175 as the “value” pick to win this division. Keep in mind that the Bengals won the division in 2021 with a 10-7 record while marching all the way to the Super Bowl. If you think the Bengals can not only return to the Super Bowl but win it this time, you’d win $2,200 on a $100 bet. See Odds Shark’s breakdown of Super Bowl odds.
There’s no reason to suggest that the Bengals, who had the seventh-best offense with 53 total touchdowns in 2021, can’t get better with youngster Ja’Marr Chase still improving after a Rookie of the Year season. While there’s still more to be desired defensively following the 2021 season from Cincinnati, there’s an expectation that Jessie Bates, who signed a franchise tag, can have a solid year after a setback that saw him post career lows for passes defended (4), tackles (88) and tackles assists (21).
A $100 winning bet on the Bengals to repeat as AFC North winners would net a $175 profit.
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AFC North Division: Last 10 Division Winners
There’s little sustained domination in the AFC North. Pittsburgh has topped the division the most in the past decade with four titles. No team has ever held the division longer than two years in a row over the past decade. Only the Browns haven’t won the division title over the past 10 years.
You have to go back to when the division was named the AFC Central to find a team that held the division for longer than two years. That was the Steelers, who won the Central four straight times from 1994 to 1997.