Value Positions on NFL Futures and Props: AFC North 2019

Written by:
C Costigan
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We’re in the process of running through all eight NFL divisions and looking for good value opportunities in futures and prop betting markets. In this installment, we’ll examine the AFC North which has the odd distinction of having a team that went 0-16 two years ago favored to win the divisional title. That would be the Cleveland Browns who are +140 to win the AFC North in the NFL futures odds at BetOnline.ag.  They’re just in front of the Pittsburgh Steelers at +175.  

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Not quite ready to anoint the Cleveland Browns as NFC North champions.  For one thing, it’s never happened.  Since the NFL realigned the divisions in 2002 there have been only three winners of the NFC North—the Pittsburgh Steelers (8 times), the Baltimore Ravens (5 times) and the Cincinnati Bengals (4 times).  Notice which team is absent from that list?  That being said, the Browns should improve considerably this year and it’s definitely long overdue.  Cleveland enters the 2019 NFL campaign on a run of 11 straight losing seasons and 16 straight years without a playoff appearance.  This is a team that went 3-13 in 2015, 1-15 in 2016 and 0-16 in 2017.  Obviously things have changed dramatically since then.  Hue Jackson was fired midway through the 2018 season with the team at 2-5-1, Gregg Williams got the gig as interim head coach and Baker Mayfield took over as starting quarterback.

The unsung hero in the Browns revival is General Manager John Dorsey who gave former offensive coordinator/new head coach Freddie Kitchens a ton of talent to work with.  The Browns had a great off-season and brought in some elite talent on defense with Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson but the big name acquisition was wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. He’s had injury issues over the past few years but when healthy he’s as dominant as any receiver in the league.  As if these acquisitions weren’t enough, Cleveland also had a great NFL draft with a focus on defense.  LSU cornerback Greedy Williams and BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki could contribute immediately.

So much good going on in Cleveland it’s easy to forget that they’ve got a budding superstar running back in Nick Chubb.  With the rest of the division alternately regressing or in a holding pattern the time is right for a change in the balance of power.  Browns should do no worse than 10 wins this year.


With the focus on the personnel transitions in Pittsburgh and the media circus surrounding the Cleveland Browns the Baltimore Ravens have found themselves somewhat overshadowed.  That should change once the season begins.  The Ravens not only got younger but arguably got better—gone are Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs and CJ Mosley.  In are Mark Ingram, Earl Thomas and returning QB Lamar Jackson.  Assuming Jackson doesn’t suffer a ‘sophomore slump’ it’s hard to envision the Ravens finishing under .500.  What hasn’t changed is that Baltimore has the exceptional coaching of John Harbaugh.  They could give Cleveland a run for the divisional crown.


Tempted to play the Pittsburgh Steelers ‘Under’ 9 wins but the chemistry should be better with Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown gone.  Instead, we’ll pick on the Cincinnati Bengals who start the season without Marvin Lewis on the sidelines for the first time in 17 years.  Zac Taylor is the new coach and he has some tools at his disposal—quarterback Andy Dalton, running back Joe Mixon and wide receiver AJ Green (Green will miss the start of the season due to injury).  The defensive line looks solid though the offensive line could be this team’s most daunting weakness.  The 5.5 win total O/U at BetOnline.ag is a bit optimistic and would necessitate the team at least ‘treading water’ from last year.  Unfortunately, ‘treading water’ won’t get it done in a very tough division.  Rough year in Cincy where the Bengals need to rebuild but don’t appear to have any direction or timetable for doing so.  

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