- The Cleveland Browns are now the +125 favorites to win the AFC North
- Baltimore, the previous +125 chalk, fell to +180 following the Ravens’ Monday loss to the Las Vegas Raiders
- In third at +310 are the Pittsburgh Steelers, the only one of these teams to win their opener to the NFL season
Some things that the first week of the NFL season has taught us about the AFC North:
Which AFC West team you lose to is of vital significance. Losing to a Super Bowl contender on the road is of more value than beating a Super Bowl contender on the road.
Winning isn’t as important as we’ve been led to believe. In fact, it appears that Tom Petty was right – even the losers get lucky sometimes.
The Baltimore Ravens are no longer favorites in the AFC North odds. The preseason +125 favorite, following their season-opening 33-27 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, they’ve fallen to the second betting choice at +180 in the NFL Divisional odds.
It’s the Cleveland Browns who are now the favored in the AFC North at +125. In their season bow, the Browns squandered a 22-10 lead and fell 33-29 to the reigning AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers, 23-16 on the road over the Buffalo Bills, are the third betting choice in the AFC North odds at +310.
AFC North Odds
All odds as of September 14th at DraftKings
Ravens Fumble It Away
Baltimore wants to be able to throw the ball more effectively this season. There were signs of that progression in Monday’s loss. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson threw for 235 yards and a touchdown.
However, Jackson also lost two fumbles. One cost Baltimore the lead, sending the game to OT. The second fumble cost the Ravens the game.
Lamar Jackson ended up getting pressured on 54.5% of his drop-backs, per @NextGenStats. Derek Carr was pressured on just 20.3% of his.
The Ravens were supposed to have the better offensive line. And a capable pass rush. It'll take some time.
— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) September 14, 2021
A familiar scenario was again evident in the opener. The Baltimore offense is still too often reliant on Jackson’s ability to improvise.
The supposedly repaired Ravens offensive line resembled turnstiles. Jackson was pressured on more than 50% of his dropbacks.
Down Go Browns
Cleveland’s inability to handle season openers also reared its ugly head yet again. The Browns dropped to 1-20-1 in the first game of the season since 1999.
Racing to their big lead, the Browns displayed that they are a deep, talented club. Rallying for the win, the Chiefs displayed to the Browns what a championship team looks like.
Browns C JT Tretter on Baker Mayfield's interception: "It's not a 'he has to close out the game.' It's a 'we have to close out the game.'"
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) September 13, 2021
In the second half, Browns running back Nick Chubb fumbled. QB Baker Mayfield was picked off on an ill-advised pass attempt. Punter Jamie Gillan bungled a snap. Great teams don’t make those types of miscues.
The Browns are getting there. However, there’s still work to be done.
Steel Curtain Raiser
Down 10-0 at halftime, Pittsburgh scored 23 second-half points to win at Buffalo against a Bills team many are projecting to be Super Bowl 56 champions.
— NFL (@NFL) September 12, 2021
The Steel Curtain defense stifled Bills QB Josh Allen and the high-powered Buffalo offense. TJ Watt sacked Allen twice. That effort enabled the Steelers to overcome a pedestrian performance from their own offense.
In two of the past three seasons, Pittsburgh ruled over the AFC North with an iron first for three-quarters of the season. Then they spit the bit down the stretch like a sprinter trying to run an endurance race.
It’s Upside Down World
Cleveland and Baltimore, favorites to win the AFC North, are both 0-1. Pittsburgh and the Cincinnati Bengals, both 1-0, are the longshots.
Cinci (+2000) were 27-24 OT winners over the Minnesota Vikings, as QB Joe Burrow and WR Ja’Marr Chase worked their old LSU magic in their first game as NFL teammates. The Bengals aren’t in the conversation for the AFC North crown. They also aren’t the free spot on the AFC North calendar any longer.
It wouldn’t be at all shocking to see all three of the other AFC North teams in the NFL postseason.
We will come back stronger. pic.twitter.com/laQPnVtknE
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 12, 2021
Season-ending injuries to CB Marcus Peters and RBs J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill dealt Baltimore a difficult blow. Pittsburgh must deal with the NFL’s second-toughest schedule.
What can the Browns do for you? Bet them to win the AFC North, and they’ll put a smile on your face – and money in your wallet.
Pick: Cleveland Browns (+125)
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