AFC North NFL 2018 Season Predictions and Betting Picks
For those NFL fans who love to gamble, its been a terrific year.
Thats because on May 14, 2018, the United States Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on gambling known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
Now instead of having to go to Las Vegas to bet on professional and college football games, gamblers will be able to go to their local betting parlors and casinos in whichever state they live to place whatever NFL bets they like.
Unfortunately, though, thats going to take a little more time to get set up.
So until all those new American parlors and casinos are put in place (and they will be!), online betting will continue to rule.
However and wherever you choose to place your bets, the 2018 NFL season will provide fans with plenty of opportunities to gamble, so we thought wed offer a little help in that department.
This article series lists the current odds posted at four of the top online NFL betting sites:
- BETOnline (BO)
- Intertops (IT)
- SPORTSBetting (SB)
- GT Bets (GT)
Weve included the betting odds for every team in each NFL division, their chances of winning their division, their conference and the Super Bowl. But remember, odds can change, so be sure to check whats actually listed online before placing any bets.
Only gamble what you can afford to lose but study the odds to keep your losing to a minimum and shop around for the best odds to keep your winning to a maximum.
This is the AFC North
Last season, the AFC North wasn’t even close.
The 13-3 Pittsburgh Steelers ran away with it but were stopped in the Divisional round by the Jacksonville Jaguars, 45-42. The Baltimore Ravens could have scored a Wildcard spot in those playoffs but instead lost 31-27 to the Bengals in Week 17.
A fairly busy offseason was had by most of the AFC North contenders, but given the level of offensive talent that remains in Pittsburgh, the odds still favor a Steelers domination.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (+1000 to win SB LIII)
For the Pittsburgh Steelers to get to the Super Bowl, they have to figure out a way to beat the one team that consistently dominates the AFC – Tom Brady’s New England Patriots.
Last season, the two teams met in Week 15 at Heinz Field and the Patriots intercepted a pass in the last few seconds of the game to ensure a 27-24 win. The Steelers were accused of focusing so much on the potential Patriots rematch in the Conference finals that they let the Jaguars playoff game get away from them.
Offensive tools remain for Roethlisberger
Once again, the Steelers will have power-triplet quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell and All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown to balance off each other on an offense ranked third in the NFL last season.
New offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner will also get to work with returning tight end Jesse James, who caught 43 balls last season for 372 yards and 3 touchdowns and second-year All Rookie wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, who had 58 catches for 917 yards and 7 TDs last season.
Also expected to contribute is second-round draft pick wide receiver James Washington who caught for 4,472 yards and 39 touchdowns during his playing days at Oklahoma State.
Draft pick and free agent immediately impact Steelers defensive
The Steelers worked on their secondary this offseason after cutting controversial safety Mike Mitchell. Expectations are high for first-round draft pick safety Terrell Edmunds (Virginia Tech) as well as signed former Packers starter Morgan.
Last season, Pittsburgh’s defense was fifth best in the NFL, allowing only 306.9 total yards per game and snagging 16 total interceptions. But they fell behind the Patriots in the Super Bowl 28-14 at the half.
Le’Veon Bell’s last Black-and-Gold Season?
Once again, stud running back Le’Veon Bell sat out of voluntary OTAs, mandatory minicamp and now training camp while waiting for a satisfactory contract from the Steelers. Bell turned down the team’s most recent long-term offer that would have paid him $70 million over five seasons.
Bell ran for 1,291 yards and 9 TDs while catching 85 balls for 655 yards and 2 TDs last season and is expected to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019. The Steelers could place a transition tag on him, which would give them a chance to match another team’s offer.
Regardless, 2018 will be a good season to bet on the Steelers to dominate.
Odds that the Pittsburgh Steelers will win:
The AFC North: BO: -250, IT: -303, SB: -250, GT: -280
The AFC Championship: BO: +550, IT: +400, SB: +550, GT: +450
The Super Bowl: BO: +1000, IT: +1000, SB: +1000, GT: +900
The Baltimore Ravens (+4000 to win SB LIII)
After the Baltimore Ravens blew their chances at a Wildcard playoff spot by losing to the Bengals 31-27 in Week 17 of last season, their front office decided to use the 2018 draft to put a fire under their veteran quarterback Joe Flacco.
Regardless of whether Flacco 2018 seems ready to return to glory, odds makers arent very confident in the Ravens to find their way back to the Super Bowl.
Mr. Flacco, meet Mr. Jackson
With their second first round pick, the Ravens selected the electrifying young quarterback from Louisville, Lamar Jackson. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s 2017 offense was only ranked 29th in passing yards per game (189.4), so bringing in Jackson might send Flacco the message that he needs to pick up his production.
In 2017, Flacco threw for only 3,141 yards and 18 TDs with 13 interceptions, which put him in the bottom third of all starting NFL quarterbacks. The prior season was a whole lot better – Flacco threw for almost 1,200 more yards and 20 TDs with 15 picks.
New offensive tools in place
Ravens fans are excited about first round draft pick tight end Hayden Hurst who should give Flacco another offensive weapon to count on. In his three seasons with South Carolina, Hurst had 111 total plays from scrimmage for 1,320 yards and 4 TDs, averaging 11.9 yards per touch.
General manager Ozzie Newsome also cleared and restocked the wide receivers room by signing Willie Snead (NO), Michael Crabtree (OAK) and John Brown (ARI) and also drafting receivers Jordan Lasley (UCLA) and Jaleel Scott (New Mexico State). Let the competition begin.
Guard Marshal Yanda was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list on July 16th, so drafted linemen Orlando Brown, Greg Senat and Bradley Bozeman will have to step up a lot sooner than expected.
Ravens defense now coordinated by a Wink
Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees announced his retirement less than 24 hours after that 2017 season ending loss to the Bengals. Linebackers coach Don Wink Martindale will now fill that role.
Head coach John Harbaugh is counting on Marindale’s aggressive mentality to improve a Ravens defense that went from 9th best in 2016 down to 12th last season. Despite that, 2nd-Team All-Pro linebacker C.J. Mosley still had 132 total tackles, 7 passes defended, 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles with 2 recoveries and an interception last season.
Odds that the Baltimore Ravens will win:
The AFC North: BO: +450, IT: +450, SB: +450, GT: +450
The AFC Championship: BO: +1600, IT: +2000, SB: +1600, GT: +1800
The Super Bowl: BO: +4000, IT: +4000, SB: +4000, GT: +3500
The Cincinnati Bengals (+10000 to win SB LIII)
Last season, the Cincinnati Bengals went 7-9 and continued to avoid the playoffs. Despite having to face five 2017 playoff teams, the 2018 Cincinnati Bengals have the 3rd-easiest schedule this season.
With all the coordinator shuffling (Bill Lazor on offense last year, Teryl Austin on defense this year) and an otherwise fairly quiet offseason, the odds say its going to be another 3rd place finish in the AFC North for Cincinnati.
Lewis has been extended
The 2017 Cincinnati Bengals offense only scored 18.1 points per game while their defense allowed an average of 21.8 points a game. The result? Only seven wins and their second straight losing season.
Regardless, head coach Marvin Lewis was signed to a two-year contract extension, and that’s despite only having a 0-7 playoff record. Lewis has been the Bengals head coach since 2003, has a total record of 125-112-3 for a winning percentage of .527, which makes him the 26th winningest coach in NFL history.
Just not lately.
O-line injuries have healed
First-round draft pick center Bill Price, who was injured while bench-pressing at the combine, is back to benching above 300 pounds and is on the way to a full clearance. Price will attempt to maintain quarterback Andy Daltons pocket better than last season, when his pass completion percentage was only 59.9 (compared to 2016 when it was 64.7) and he was sacked 41 times.
Left tackle Cordy Glenn has been cleared with his ankle and foot issues and is slowly getting back to playing shape, according to new offensive line coach Frank Pollack. The former Cowboys offensive line coach was quoted as saying he wants his players punching pass rushers in the mouth instead of back-peddling, an obvious jab at the coaching style of his predecessor.
Some Cincinnati offseason fixes
The Bengals offensive line has been improved by adding two veteran offensive tackles Cordy Glenn (BUF) and Bobby Hart (NYG).
Opponents scored 21.8 points per game last season, so the defense was upgraded by signing free agent defensive tackle Chris Swaggy Baker (TB) and linebacker Preston Brown (BUF).
But don’t forget: linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who had 69 tackles and 1.5 sacks in his partial 2017 season, will miss the first four games due to a suspension for violating the league’s Performance Enhancing Drug policy.
Odds that the Cincinnati Bengals will win:
The AFC North: BO: +800, IT: +1000, SB: +800, GT: +1000
The AFC Championship: BO: +4000, IT: +4000, SB: +4000, GT: +4000
The Super Bowl: BO: +10000, IT: +8000, SB: +10000, GT: +8000
The Cleveland Browns (+8000 to win SB LIII)
No team has tried harder to improve this offseason than the winless Cleveland Browns.
The 2017 Browns suffered from too many red zone turnovers and dropped passes plus a league leading 28 interceptions, 22 of which were thrown by rookie starting quarterback DeShone Kizer.
New general manager John Dorsey (surprisingly) kept their coach Hue Jackson and his 1-31 record, but brought in a whole lot of veterans and rookies on offense and defense to improve the team’s chances to win.
Lots of offseason trading…
For the last several seasons, the Browns were able to create $100 million in cap space and grabbed 9 draft picks in 2018, four of which were in the first two rounds.
Dorsey traded the Buffalo Bills for Tyrod Taylor after the veteran quarterback brought the Bills to the playoffs for the first time in seventeen years.
He also traded the Miami Dolphins for 3x Pro Bowl slot receiver Jarvis Landry and the San Francisco 49ers for Carlos Hyde, a running back who carried the ball 240 times for 940 yards and 8 TDs and caught 59 balls for 350 yards in 2017 with not one fumble.
Dorsey drafted undersized (they say just under 6 1) but strong-armed and accurate Oklahoma State quarterback Baker Mayfield for his ability to lead, compete and hang onto the ball.
To give defensive end Myles Garrett more time to chase down opposing quarterbacks, Dorsey drafted standout Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward after also trading for safety Damarious Randall (GB) and signing cornerback T.J. Carrie (OAK).
Also selected in the draft was powerful Georgia running back Nick Chubb who ran for 1,345 yards and 15 TDs, averaging 6 yards per carry his senior year. Along with Hyde and pass-catching back Duke Johnson, the Browns now have a deeper running back room than last seasons, which averaged 107.1 yards per game, 18th in the league.
Haley, not Jackson, will run the offense
In 2018, instead of Jackson running the offense as hes done in the past, Dorsey brought in Todd Haley, the former Steelers offensive coordinator with a fiery disposition. Haley has stated his main goal is to create offensive game plans that focus on each playmaker’s specific skill-set.
Last season, the Browns offense was ranked 22nd in the NFL but only managed to score a league-worst 14.6 points per game.
You can bet those numbers will improve in 2018 but by how much is the question.
Odds that the Cleveland Browns will win:
The AFC North: BO: +1000, IT: +1000, SB: +1000, GT: +1000
The AFC Championship: BO: +2800, IT: +4000, SB: +2800, GT: +3500
The Super Bowl: BO: +6600, IT: +8000, SB: +6600, GT: +7000