The 2022 NFL season is nearly upon us and the AFC North is one of the strongest divisions in football. Even with the Deshaun Watson suspension and the Steelers’ quarterback issues, both teams are strong on both sides of the ball.
Who’s the AFC North betting favorite this year? Do the Bengals top the list after their surprise Super Bowl run? Or are the Ravens primed for a bounce-back year? Let’s dive in.
2022 AFC North Betting Odds
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AFC North Odds Movement
When divisional odds were first offered in late February, the Bengals were the front runners with Baltimore close behind. Action started coming in on the Ravens which closed the gap, and at one point the teams were co-favorites.
The Deshaun Watson trade in late March flipped everything and pushed the Browns to the front of the pack immediately. Cleveland’s odds were as short as +150 on some sportsbooks.
Once the suspension rumors started swirling, however, Cleveland fell back to third among the AFC North and held steady at around +275 for quite some time. When it was reported the NFL would appeal the initial six-game ban handed down by Judge Robinson, the Browns’ odds jumped to where they are today.
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AFC North Preview
Baltimore Ravens 2022 Outlook
Through the first 11 weeks of the 2021-2022 season, the Ravens appeared to be in the driver’s seat for the AFC North at 8-3. The Ravens did not win a single game the rest of the year as QB Lamar Jackson’s season ended in Week 14 with an ankle injury.
The Ravens beefed up the offensive line by bringing in veteran Morgan Moses and drafting center Tyler Linderbaum in the first round. Baltimore made key defensive additions as well, backing up the Brinks truck for safety Marcus Williams, drafting rookie Kyle Hamilton, and signing corner Kyle Fuller and defensive lineman Michael Pierce.
Jackson will have the team on his back once again as he looks for a contract extension.
Cincinnati Bengals 2022 Outlook
The Bengals will surprise no one this year after the team lost by a field goal in Super Bowl 56. After watching QB Joe Burrow be sacked at an even higher rate than his rookie season, Cincinnati invested heavily in the offensive line. Alex Cappa, La’el Collins, and Ted Karras will be tasked with keeping Burrow upright and improving the running game.
Bengals fans let out a collective sigh of relief as star safety Jessie Bates finally reported to camp and signed the franchise tender. While the defense didn’t let up a bunch of passing touchdowns, it did let up the seventh-most passing yards in the league last year. With a tougher schedule in 2022, the secondary will have to step up.
Cleveland Browns 2022 Outlook
Deshaun Watson will only appear in six games for the Browns this year and three of those games will be divisional matchups. Interestingly, the extended suspension only resulted in the Browns’ win total dropping one game, from 9.5 to 8.5. Splitting the difference with BetMGM’s +375 odds for Cleveland gives them an implied probability of 21% to win the AFC North.
Although the Browns have what is potentially the easiest opening schedule across the NFL through the first four games, things get much tougher from Week 5 on.
Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 Outlook
The Steelers have fantastic offensive weapons with RB Najee Harris, a trio of receivers, and tight end Pat Freiermuth. The problem? A swiss cheese offensive line and questionable-at-best quarterback play.
While the defensive additions of linebacker Myles Jack and former Bengal Larry Ogunjobi will help fortify an already-strong defensive front, the secondary is a liability.
AP Photo/Emilee Chinn