AFC North Odds Update: Don't count out Baker's Browns
We are at the halfway mark of the NFL season. While some teams have separated themselves from their divisional opponents, the AFC North remains wide open.
Let’s look at the current odds and determine which team is primed to take it home.
AFC North 2021/2022
Sun, January 9 2022, 9:25 PM
Ravens are risky
The Baltimore Ravens are the current favorites and rightfully so at 6-2 and with a former MVP at quarterback. However, they have only played two teams in current playoff positions and they are 1-1 in those two games.
Also, the Ravens have only played one game against a team in the AFC North. They played the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7 and got smoked on their home field. The Ravens still need to play the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers twice, and must travel to Cincinnati for a game. There are just too many opportunities remaining for possible divisional losses to take them at this point and these odds.
Who do you think will end the season as AFC North champions?
Watch out for Baker the Touchdown Maker
It has been a roller coaster season for the Browns thus far, but things are starting to move in positive directions. They have moved on from Odell Beckham Jr. and that is a good thing for Baker Mayfield and his continued development.
The first game post-OBJ was the most efficient game of the season for Mayfield. He had a quarterback rating of 132.6 and threw for 218 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-16 blowout over the Bengals on the road.
Kevin Stefanski is a better coach without OBJ. Baker Mayfield is a better QB without OBJ.— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) November 8, 2021
Stefanski is great because he attacks defenses with scheme-not people@bakermayfield is at his best when he allows the D to dictate who “#1” is. @browns@nathanzegura pic.twitter.com/h0eu7Jx2ws
The Browns will finish their final six games of the year with four divisional games. They also have a strange scheduling situation where they will play two consecutive games against the Baltimore Ravens separated only by a bye week. This schedule allows them to take full advantage of their experience and rest opportunity to win important possible tiebreaker games for this division.
Pittsburgh and Cincy are playing above their heads
Two of the more surprising teams for me this season have been the Steelers and the Bengals. Before the season, I thought that Pittsburgh was a team in decline that was going to fall to a non-playoff contender. I thought Cincinnati was still a year or two away from becoming a contender.
However, both teams have impressed and look like they could be playoff teams. The Steelers defense is legit, and T.J. Watt is sacking quarterbacks left and right. Nonetheless, they do not have the firepower on offense to keep up with contenders in the AFC, and have a tough schedule over the second half of the season.
The Bengals have the offensive firepower and a strong bend-but-don’t-break defense. However, the last two games for the Bengals showed some flaws. They have allowed 75 total points and 872 total yards in those two games, one of which was against the lowly New York Jets.
If you look at everyone’s remaining schedule in this division without looking at divisional games, my predictions for their records are: Cincinnati (8-7), Pittsburgh (7-6), Cleveland (8-5), and Baltimore (8-4).
This gives Cleveland and Baltimore a clear advantage in that they can go around .500 in divisional play to stay ahead of Cincy and Pittsburgh. The Browns may need to beat Baltimore twice or hope that Pittsburgh or Cincinnati can defeat Baltimore one more time, but the odds are just too favorable to pass up at this number. Cleveland and Baltimore are much closer than the current odds show, and you must take the value here.