Handicapping the AFC North
The 2015 NFL season is quickly approaching. Football time is the best and most fun time for bettors to place wagers. Grabbing futures now can payoff in the log run as odds will change rapidly as the season gets closer.
The AFC North came down to the last day of the season last year and saw the top 3 teams finish 11-5, 10-5-1, and 10-6.
Odds to Win the 2015-16 AFC North
Baltimore Ravens 8/5
Cincinnati Bengals 11/5
Pittsburgh Steelers 11/5
Cleveland Browns 9/1
Ravens Odds to win the 2015-2016 Super Bowl: 25/1
Ravens Odds to win the 2015-2016 AFC Conference: 12/1
Ravens Odds to Win the 2015-2016 AFC North: 8/5
The Steelers were crowned champions, but is was just another season where the top of the division standings were crowded. It has seemed to be a recurring theme and things should be no different in 2015.
Lets break the division down in 2015 and see if the Steelers will repeat or somebody will emerge to the top.
Baltimore showed just why depth at the running back position is so valuable. After the whole Ray Rice incident, they needed somebody to fill in for one of the best rushers in the game. They found that in running back Justin Forsett.
Justin Forsett ran the ball 235 times for 1,266 yards and 8 touchdowns in the 2014-2015 season. Forsett had one of his best games in the AFC semi finals against the New England Patriots last season as he ran for 129 yards and caught a touchdown. The Ravens have been trying to get Forsett a lot of reps in the passing game as he will have a bigger role in the 2015-2016 season.
Baltimore blew a late 2nd half lead against New England so you have to believe the team and fans are licking their chops to get back to the playoffs this coming season.
Expect big things from Joe Flacco as he came through in many clutch situations in 2014-2015. With Justin Forsett solidified into his role and the Ravens’ running game now in full form, a little bit of pressure will be lifted off Flacco’s shoulders.
Bengals Odds to win the 2015-2016 Super Bowl: 33/1
Bengals Odds to win the 2015-2016 AFC Conference: 16/1
Bengals Odds to Win the 2015-2016 AFC North: 11/5
The Bengals offense was quite inconsistent in the 2014-2015 season.
QB Andy Dalton had games where he threw for 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns. He also had games like the AFC Wild Card game against the Colts where he threw for just 155 yards, that led to many 3 and outs for the Bengals. His inconsistent play was the reason for the 2014-2015 season being a roller coaster ride.
As far as the running game is concerned, RB Jeremy Hill has solidified his spot as the number one. He ran for 1124 yards and 9 touchdowns in the 2014-2015 season. If he can have another year like that, the Bengals could be in for a 5th straight post season appearance.
The Bengals defense was 12th best in terms of points against with 21.5.
Cincinnati will need AJ Green to stay healthy this season as their passing game significantly goes down when he is not out wide. If Green can stay healthy, expect the Bengals and Andy Dalton to have big seasons.
Steelers Odds to win the 2015-2016 Super Bowl: 25/1
Steelers Odds to win the 2015-2016 AFC Conference: 10/1
Steelers Odds to Win the 2015-2016 AFC North: 11/5
The defending AFC North champions look to repeat as champions behind QB Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger led Pittsburgh to 301.6 passing yards a game (2nd overall) and the 7th best scoring offense (27.2 points a game).
Despite Ben Roethlisberger’s 334 pass yards in the AFC Wild Card game, arch rival Baltimore eliminated the Steelers 30-17.
The main reason behind their failures down the stretch of the season and in the AFC Wild Card game is thanks in large part to their sketchy defense. Pittsburgh ranked 27th in the NFL, allowing 253.6 pass yards a game. They also allowed 23.0 points a game (18th). They’ll need to vastly improve on those numbers if they hope to defend their North division crown.
Browns Odds to win the 2015-2016 Super Bowl: 75/1
Browns Odds to win the 2015-2016 AFC Conference: 33/1
Browns Odds to Win the 2015-2016 AFC North: 9/1
Cleveland probably has the most optimistic fans in football.
Every year they expect something big to happen, but something always seems to go wrong. After hometown hero Brian Hoyer was essentially pushed out of Cleveland, they turned to Josh McCown and signed him to a 3 year deal. They quarterback battle will be between Johnny Manziel and McCown heading into training camp. The likely winner will be McCown who hasn’t proven to be a winner, but is ready to after his contract with Cleveland.
The only real shot for the Browns is they come out of the gates firing. They cannot afford to lose games early and dig themselves a hole.
Cleveland ranked 23rd in total offense (324.6 yards a game), 20th in passing (217.1 yards a game), and 18th in rushing (107.5 yards a game).
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