The Steelers come into this season as favorites to win the AFC North for the third year in a row. They come back with an offense boasting three of the best players in the league with QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell. They are currently priced at -210 but I do not believe the Steelers should be priced so highly.
The Steelers price has a lot to do with the media and their large fanbase. They have high expectations because of their big name players and their consistent defensive success. This year will be different though. Le’Veon Bell is in the middle of a contract dispute and still has not reported to the Steelers. He did the same last year, so people are saying it is not a big deal. This season is essentially an audition for him to show the rest of the league why he deserves a large contract, so he has all the motivation he needs to be in shape. This shows a small glimpse of the dysfunction that has been allowed in the Steelers locker room since Mike Tomlin has become coach. They also lost Ryan Shazier, arguably their best defensive player to a career ending injury. Their defense was nowhere near as good as they were with him on the field. He will be tough to replace and it will not be so easy for the Steelers to win the AFC North this year. They have yet to win the division three consecutive years under Mike Tomlin and this year does not look like the year for it to happen.
The Ravens come into this year as the Steelers main competition to the AFC North. They signed WRs John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead to overhaul last year’s lackluster receiving core. Their defense is very good and has talented players at every position. Even with Jimmy Smith’s four game suspension, this is a defense that should once again be one of the league’s best. The Ravens also have good special teams with kicker Justin Tucker and punter Sam Koch. Ever since John Harbaugh has started coaching the Ravens they have played had great special teams units. If there is a team that is not the Steelers that will win the AFC North this year it will be the ravens. This is a team I can see making the playoffs as a wild-card at the very least. I believe their win total at 8 is low and they should go over that.
The Bengals come into this year looking to improve off a mediocre season last year. The Bengals have been in that mediocre tier where they play better than most teams, but they are never good enough to be serious Super Bowl contenders. This year looks like more of the same if not on the lower end of mediocrity. The Bengals are a team i see struggling to get to 7 wins and this year may finally be the breaking point for a reason to fire Marvin Lewis. Since Lewis became coach in 2003 he has been very average and lost every playoff game. Marvin Lewis coaches the Bengals is like an average cube monkey. Just doing just enough good work to not get fired. This team does not seem like a cohesive unit and is more individuals looking more for personal gain than to be a part of a team. I do not see the Bengals as a threat to make the playoffs or win the AFC North.
The Browns come into this year once again as the Browns. I am going to keep it short and sweet with them. They are a prove-it-to-me team. I would not invest anything in a Cleveland Browns future or win total until they have shown real signs of improvement. They would get off to good starts in games last year. Hopefully they are able to build off that early momentum this year and finish a game off. I will mention here that I can see the Browns winning week 2 @ New Orleans. They seemingly match up well on paper. I am going to call my shot in this blog that I believe the Browns will get their first win in week 2 @ New Orleans. They have a good run defense and they will be able to get pressure on Drew Brees. If they can get off to a quick start and play with a lead they will get the win and surprise everybody.
Ravens WIN AFC North +350
Ravens OVER 8 wins -165