The Baltimore Ravens proved last NFL season that regular season results don’t guarantee postseason success. The Ravens finished with the best record in the league at 14-2, but they lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Tennessee Titans.
The Ravens enter the 2020 NFL season as the odds-on favorite to win the AFC North, but each of the other three teams in the division looks to be improved from last season. Let’s look at AFC North odds and each of the four teams.
2020 AFC North Odds
Baltimore Ravens -235
The Ravens were a surprise last season, as they were beaten just twice during the regular season. Quarterback Lamar Jackson had an amazing season, as he threw for 3,127 yards and an NFL-high 36 touchdowns and he broke the NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,206 yards. Duplicating that season again will be next to impossible, so the Ravens will have to play better in other areas if they are to match last season’s success. The Ravens went out and added J.K. Dobbins from Ohio State in the NFL Draft and he should be a good complement to Mark Ingram. Regardless, the Ravens are built around Jackson and he knows that he has to be better in 2020. “I've got to produce the next week. I've got to go out there and make another statement.” Jackson said to the media, “We've got to go win the next game. We've got to win the Super Bowl – that's really on my mind."
The Ravens also improved their defense in the off-season, adding DE Calais Campbell, DE Derek Wolfe and they got a steal by taking LB Patrick Queen in the first round.
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Pittsburgh Steelers +455
The Steelers made a couple of additions in the off-season, adding TE Eric Ebron and OG Stefen Wisniewski, but if the Steelers are to have the success they need their key players to stay healthy. They get Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Conner back from injury this season. If all three players are healthy then the Steelers should be vastly improved on offense. The Steelers badly need Roethlisberger to return to form if they are to do anything in 2020. "As we sit here today, we are extremely confident in his readiness," head coach Mike Tomlin said to the media, "We are enjoying the process that he's going through right now." Pittsburgh did nothing to address the backup quarterback position in the offseason, so it is all or nothing with Roethlisberger this season.
Cleveland Browns +485
It is time to put up or shut up for Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns. The Browns were a dumpster fire last season and they decided they made yet another mistake at head coach. They fired Freddie Kitchens who was in way over his head and hired former Minnesota offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski. He can’t be any worse than Kitchens and there are early indications that the Browns may finally have made a good choice for head coach. The Browns went out and paid a ton of money to get tight end Austin Hooper, so he should give Mayfield a security blanket when his other receivers are covered. The question for the Browns is whether or not Mayfield is really a franchise quarterback. He has yet to look the part in two seasons, so it is all or nothing for Mayfield this year.
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Cincinnati Bengals +2000
The Bengals were the worst team in the NFL a season ago, but there is optimism in Cincinnati heading into this year, as the Bengals took LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first pick in the NFL Draft. Burrow is expected to be the face of the Bengals for many years to come and Cincinnati has some weapons around him in A.J. Green, Joe Mixon, and Tee Higgins who they took in the NFL Draft. The Bengals have not had much success in picking franchise quarterbacks in the past, as they whiffed by taking David Klinger in 1992 and Akili Smith in 1999. They are hoping that Burrow is the answer because they have basically turned the team over to him for the immediate future.
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