As we make our way toward Week 1 of the 2020 NFL campaign, there's no better time to dig into preseason gambling markets that bettors can exploit to gain value before the games begin.
Online sports betting sites in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and several other states where wagering is legal are offering odds for various markets with dozens of props for each and every team, in addition to the standard options for a division winner, conference winner, and Super Bowl champion.
Since the games are right around the corner, we have chosen to break things down by division to cover several teams at once. So let's get to the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, and Cincinnati Bengals as we make some AFC North predictions.
Who Will Win The AFC North In 2020?
In recent history, the AFC North is known for being a hard-fought division where everyone beats each other up, similar to the reputation the NFC East has. But that was not the case in 2019 as the Ravens finished 14-2 and won the division by six whole games. Every other team suffering through seasons that ranged from mediocre to outright terrible. So what's in store for this year?
The people want to know: who will win the AFC North in 2020? Oddsmakers see it as a Baltimore repeat, and we are in no position to argue with that, even if there's not much value in the line at -200.
The Ravens went 14-2 and have an improved defense to go with an electric offense led by MVP Lamar Jackson, and they also have a pretty easy draw.
Going by opponent win percentage from a season ago, the Ravens have the easiest NFL schedule of any team in the league. You certainly can't put all your stock into a stat that doesn't account for offseason moves, but the schedule does look like one that features at least double-digit Baltimore victories.
The expectation is that Pittsburgh will be improved and so will Cleveland, but the latter is not ready to compete for a division title. The Steelers present great value as a bounceback underdog pick at +320 (BetMGM), but the most recommended AFC North division winner pick is still the Ravens.
AFC North Division Winner Pick: Baltimore Ravens (-200 at BetMGM)
Best Sites For NFL Betting
|Sportbook||Bonus Offer||Bet In|
$25 No Deposit + $500 Risk-Free + $500 First Deposit
$5 No Deposit
AFC North Win Total Predictions
- Baltimore Ravens Over 11 Wins (-115 at DraftKings)
While we can't expect Baltimore to replicate 14 wins, what do we think about 12? Judging by the schedule, the dynamic offense, and improved defense, we're thinking this team can definitely get over 11 victories.
Even if Baltimore falters and loses a game within the division this time around, the schedule is littered with teams that the Ravens are going to have no trouble with. Some sites have 11.5, which would provide more value, but an 11-5 record is plausible and this gives some margin for error with an extra loss.
- Pittsburgh Steelers Over 9 Wins (-115 at BetMGM)
The 2019 Steelers ranked third in defense DVOA according to Football Outsiders and with weapons such as Eric Ebron and Chase Claypool joining a returning Ben Roethlisberger, we also expect a much better offense from Pittsburgh.
This is the second-best team in the AFC North this season and has many winnable games on what is really a pretty light schedule. They should get to double-digits and cash for the over bettors here.
- Cleveland Browns Over 8.5 Wins (-110 at FanDuel)
Many expected the uber-talented Browns to finally emerge as a playoff team in 2019 but it just never materialized. At the very least, they've got a new coach, and thanks to the AFC North's matchups with the AFC South and NFC East, the Browns' schedule doesn't look all that fearsome.
By our count, there are eight games the Browns absolutely should win. That leaves one win to steal away and cash this over, which we are betting they will finally be able to do. Trusting Cleveland is very tough at this point, but we'll still go with 9-7 and over on the Browns win total prediction.
- Cincinnati Bengals Under 5.5 Wins (+115 at BetMGM)
Bengals No. 1 pick Joe Burrow may very well be a franchise quarterback at some point. But without a training camp and preseason going into your rookie year, the learning curve will be bigger than usual.
The public is split on this one but after winning just twice last season, we're not sure Burrow alone is worth four wins. Even with a favorable draw, there's too much talent elsewhere in a division where two wins out of six would be considered pretty decent.
2020 AFC North Record Predictions
Now that we've made our picks for win totals, how about predicting what each team's exact record will be?\
These picks are obviously much more difficult to make, but it's worth noting that some online sportsbooks such as BetMGM offer lucrative odds for nailing the correct number of wins a team will have. Here are our AFC North record predictions:
- Baltimore Ravens Record Prediction: 12-4
- Pittsburgh Steelers Record Prediction: 10-6
- Cleveland Browns Record Prediction: 9-7
- Cincinnati Bengals Record Prediction: 4-12
These numbers are certain estimates, but perhaps it helps establish a baseline of what to expect from these teams going into the season. This division has a clear leader and a clear fourth-place team but with the other two in the middle jockeying for playoff position, things could get fun in the AFC North.
AFC North Best Bets
Normally, preseason NFL futures betting markets feature several categories the following:
- Win Totals
- Division Winner
- Conference Winner
- Super Bowl Champion
In addition to these more well-known markets, there are dozens of lesser-known prop betting markets specific to every team. The exact categories and odds vary from site to site, but the fact that there are a nearly unlimited number of options means every bettor should be able to find something they like.
After seeing what various sites have to offer, we've compiled out AFC North best bets as we've looked for a combination of value and what we expect to happen.
- Baltimore Ravens First Loss: Week 3 vs. Chiefs (+260 at BetMGM)
- Baltimore Ravens Exactly 12 Wins (+250 at BetMGM)
- Baltimore Ravens Win AFC North (-200 at FanDuel)
- Pittsburgh Steelers 9-12 Wins (-167 at BetMGM)
- Pittsburgh Steelers To Start 4-0: Yes (+450 at BetMGM)
- Pittsburgh Steelers To Make Playoffs: Yes (-115 at BetMGM)
- Cleveland Browns First Win: Week 2 vs. Bengals (-176 at BetMGM)
- Cleveland Browns Third Place AFC North (+122 at DraftKings)
- Cleveland Browns Exactly Nine Wins (+290 at BetMGM)
- Cincinnati Bengals First Loss: Week 1 vs. LA Chargers (-182 at BetMGM)
- Cincinnati Bengals First Win: Week 4 vs. Jaguars (+240 at BetMGM)
- Cincinnati Bengals Fourth Place AFC North (-250 at DraftKings)
Stay tuned for more 2020 NFL division predictions as we get closer to Week 1 kickoff!