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Here is the 2021 pro football betting guide preview for the AFC North.
THE FAVORITE: BALTIMORE RAVENS
The NFC West holds the title of deepest division this season, but the AFC North comes in a very close second. Baltimore and Cleveland are projected for double-digit win totals and are favored to make the playoffs. Pittsburgh is not far behind with a win total of 8.5 and a 41.7% chance to make the postseason, according to DraftKings odds. The division could send three teams to the playoffs, and two are unquestioned conference contenders.
Baltimore enters the season as the favorite to win the division (+ 115), and it is easy to see why. The Ravens have 25 wins over the last two seasons, and they have finished in the top three for rushing offense in DVOA the last two seasons. Much of that is due to the play of quarterback Lamar Jackson, but signs indicate that Baltimore is due for a step back this season. Jackson dropped from second in DVOA in 2019 to 21st in 2020, and his PFF grade went from third to 17th. As a result, the Ravens’ passing attack was below average last season, and defensively there are some real questions about the construction of this team on the edge. If the Ravens’ trajectory continues, which seems likely, it opens the door for an emerging young team in Cleveland to win this division.
LIVE DOG: CLEVELAND BROWNS
The Browns have slowly been building a monster for three years, and the fruits of that labor were an 11-win season and a playoff victory in 2020. For a franchise toiling in mediocrity for decades, that season could be viewed as the culmination of all that hard work, but the Browns are here to stay. Cleveland owns arguably the best offensive line in the NFL, and it matches perfectly with reigning Coach of the Year Kevin Stefanski’s offensive scheme. Nick Chubb has emerged as one of the best running backs in the league, and Baker Mayfield is the perfect quarterback to run Stefanski’s offense. In the offseason, the Browns added 11 players to their defense in an attempt to improve a unit that finished 25th in efficiency last season. Not only is Cleveland a live underdog in this division, but it should emerge as the division winner. Given the potential of this offense, the improvement on defense and one of the easier schedules in the NFL, the Browns have a clear path to win their first division title since 1989.