Can Lamar Jackson and the Ravens soar even higher in 2020? Photo from @PFF_Fantasy (Twitter)
- The Baltimore Ravens are -200 odds-on favorites to win the AFC North in 2020
- The Ravens have won the division in two straight seasons, but Pittsburgh looms at +340
- See the odds to win the division and win totals for each AFC North team within the story below
The Baltimore Ravens emerged as one of the best teams in the NFL last season, winning 14 of 16 games and shredding almost everything in their path during the regular season.
Are they going to carry that over into 2020, or will teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals – all who claimed to be improved – derail their second straight division crown?
2020 AFC North Odds and Win Totals
|Team||Division Odds||Win Total||SBD Win Probability|
- 2019 record: 8-8
- Points per game: 19.6 (23rd)
- Points allowed per game: 18.9 (6th)
- Yards per game: 276.8 (30th)
- Yards allowed per game: 304.1 (5th)
- Turnover differential: +10 (T7th)
The Pittsburgh Steelers had long been carried by their offense with the hope that the defense would do just enough to make them a contender. Last season, the script was flipped as Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell left the team and Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season due to injury. As a result, the offense really labored.
However, Pittsburgh found an identity on defense as a midseason addition of defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick made this one of the top defenses in the NFL. They ranked fifth overall and lead the league with a whopping 38 takeaways.
Now, with Roethlisberger back and some more weapons to help him, the hope is the defense will maintain.
Steelers Key Additions and Losses
|Eric Ebron, TE||Sean Davis, LB|
|Stefan Wisniewski, G||Jason Hargrave, DT|
|Derek Watt, FB||B.J. Finney, C|
|Chase Claypool, WR||Nick Vannett, TE|
The Steelers are flying under the radar in the AFC North behind the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, but for my money, this is the second-best team in the division. I see them giving Baltimore a run for their money, so I’d definitely bet the over as I’m expecting double-digit wins and a playoff berth.
Prediction: 11-5 (First)
- 2019 record: 14-2
- Points per game: 33.2 (1st)
- Points allowed per game: 17.6 (3rd)
- Yards per game: 407.6 (2nd)
- Yards allowed per game: 300.6 (4th)
- Turnover differential: +10 (6th)
The Ravens were the best team in the regular season last year, compiling a 14-2 overall record. Lamar Jackson was the league MVP as both he and the Ravens offense smashed all sorts of records. The question is, will they slow down at all in 2020?
My feeling is that the answer to that is ‘no’. They were a very young offense that figures to get better this year. Remember, Hollywood Brown was a rookie last year and tight end Mark Andrews was only in his second season. Now the team added even more explosive weapons in rookies J.K. Dobbins and Devin Duvernay.
My concern is on defense where the team will miss Earl Thomas. They now have some questions at the back of the defense and while this team often reloads on that side of the ball, having Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott as your starting safeties in a pass-first league could be a problem.
Ravens Key Additions and Losses
|Calais Campbell, DE||Earl Thomas, S|
|Derek Wolfe, DL||Marshal Yanda, G|
|Jake Ryan, LB||Tony Jefferson, S|
|D.J. Fluker, OL||James Hurst, OL|
|J.K. Dobbins, RB||Hayden Hurst, TE|
|Brandon Carr, CB|
|Chris Wormley, DT|
The offense still leads the way but this is a tough division, the schedule is tough and the defense could take a hit. I’m expecting them to take a small step back.
Prediction: 10-6 (Second)
- 2019 record: 6-10
- Points per game: 20.9 (22nd)
- Points allowed per game: 24.6 (21st)
- Yards per game: 340.9 (22nd)
- Yards allowed per game: 361.6 (22nd)
- Turnover differential: -8 (26th)
The Browns were the talk of the town last offseason but failed miserably to deliver. They started the year with just two wins in their first eight games and while they had a brief positive stretch, ending the year with three straight losses capped off an embarrassing campaign.
Freddie Kitchens is gone and now steps in Kevin Stefanski, who previously coordinated the Minnesota Vikings offense. Is he the guy that can finally extract the most potential from this team?
Browns Key Additions and Losses
|Jack Conklin, T||Damarious Randall, S|
|Austin Hooper, TE||Joe Schobert, LB|
|Case Keenum, QB||T.J. Carrie, CB|
|Karl Joseph, S||Greg Robinson, T|
|Kevin Johnson, CB|
|Jedrick Wills, T|
|Andrew Sendejo, S|
|Adrian Clayborn, DE|
|Andy Janovich, FB|
The key will be for the offensive line to protect Baker Mayfield and for Mayfield to take that next step as a playmaker. The offensive line got a lot of help with the signing of Jack Conklin and the drafting of Jedrick Wills. With a much easier schedule and a much better offensive line, this team should be back above .500 and in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Prediction: 9-7 (Third)
- 2019 record: 2-14
- Points per game: 17.4 (30th)
- Points allowed per game: 26.3 (25th)
- Yards per game: 323.1.0 (26th)
- Yards allowed per game: 393.7 (29th)
- Turnover differential: -14 (29th)
The Bengals were the worst team in football last season, but how quickly will they be able to turn things around? Early reports out of training camp is that quarterback Joe Burrow, who was selected first overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, looks NFL-ready. If that’s the case, he could have a fairly solid offense to work with.
Taking a look around, the Bengals have Joe Mixon in the backfield along with A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Auden Tate, Tee Higgins and John Ross III at wide receiver. The big issue is the offensive line, which ranked among the worst in pass blocking last season. If they’re no better, this is going to be a bad team.
And don’t forget about the defense. Once a strength during the Marvin Lewis years, there isn’t much to like about the unit these days. D.J. Reader was signed from the Houston Texans and gives the defensive line some muscle – along with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap – but there is very little depth.
Bengals Key Additions and Losses
|Joe Burrow, QB||Andrew Billings, DL|
|Tee Higgins, WR||Darqueze Dennard, CB|
|Trae Waynes, CB||Cordy Glenn, T|
|Mackensie Alexander, CB||Tyler Eifert, TE|
|D.J. Reader, DT||Dre Kirkpatrick, CB|
At the other levels of the defense, the Bengals linebacking unit is still among the worst in the NFL and while the secondary has some solid starters, there’s nothing special. The Bengals will be surprisingly competitive in games but the defense will let them down far too often.
Prediction: 4-12 (Fourth)
For over 15 years, Dave has been working in mainstream media and sports betting. He hosted a station on Sirius Satellite Radio for four years, and is currently a senior writer for AskMen. He’s interviewed hundreds of hundreds of high-profile sports stars like Shaquille O’Neal and Floyd Mayweather.