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2017 AFC North betting preview and odds: Ravens-Steelers rivalry back in full force

Aug 16, 2017 |

It  could be Ben Roethlisberger's final season, but that isn't bothering books as he and the Steelers' high-powered offense are the faves to win the third AFC North, but the Ravens could ruin his going-away party. Covers Expert Steve Merril gives you a team-by-team breakdown of the whole division, including season win total picks.

Baltimore Ravens (2016: 8-8 SU, 7-9 ATS, 7-8-1 O/U)

Odds to win division: +400
Season win total: 8.5

Why to bet the Ravens: Baltimore's secondary figures to improve with the additions of Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson. The two of them join Jimmy Smith and Eric Weddle who made impacts last year. The Ravens also are a great bet to win close games with arguably the best kicker in football in Justin Tucker. He missed just one field goal last year and that was blocked.

Why not to bet the Ravens: The offense is already battling injuries, starting with Joe Flacco who dealt with back problems this offseason. The running back group is filled with question marks. Kenneth Dixon is done for the season, leaving the likes of Terrance West, Danny Woodhead, Javorius Allen and Lorenzo Taliaferro to share the carries. The tight end group would have been a strength before they were ravaged by injuries

Season win total pick: Over 8.5

Cincinnati Bengals (2016: 6-9-1 SU, 7-9 ATS, 6-10 O/U)

Odds to win division: +350
Season win total: 8.5

Why to bet the Bengals: The offense has a ton of weapons after acquiring John Ross and Joe Mixon in the draft.  Ross provides enough speed to prevent teams from doubling AJ Green out wide.  Mixon could be the lead back for Cincinnati by the end of the season as he moves ahead of Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard.  This team will have a strong secondary led by Adam Jones.

Why not to bet the Bengals: Andy Dalton puts up good numbers at quarterback against weak teams, but he has struggled in big games.  Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict are suspensions waiting to happen.  The Bengals have a stretch of four road games in five weeks after an early bye.

Season win total pick: Under 8.5

Cleveland Browns (2016: 1-15 SU, 3-12-1 ATS, 8-8 O/U)

Odds to win division: +5000
Season win total: 4.5

Why to bet the Browns: The team is building themselves a solid defense with the moves made this offseason.  Getting Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers in the draft will pay off nicely. Jamie Collins is a good leader to have in the linebacker corp.  Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson are a solid running back duo, with Johnson also being used in the slot.

Why not to bet the Browns: When your quarterback race is between Brock Osweiler, DeShone Kizer and Cody Kessler, you aren't going to win too many games. Kenny Britt is the veteran presence at wide receiver, but he will likely see a lot of double teams considering the lack of other weapons. Cleveland closes the season with four road games over the last six weeks.

Season win total pick: Under 4.5

Pittsburgh Steelers (2016: 11-5 SU, 9-6-1 ATS, 6-10 O/U)

Odds to win division: -170
Season win total: 10.5

Why to bet the Steelers: Any time you can roll out Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger, you are going to win. Brown is the best wide receiver in football, while Bell can make the same claim at running back.  The offensive line is highly rated as well.  Linebacker is a strength with Bud Dupree, Ryan Shazier and James Harrison.

Why not to bet the Steelers: Injuries could derail this veteran team rather quickly. Roethlisberger has missed games during the past two seasons. Bell is not in training camp which could lead to a sluggish start when he finally returns to the team. James Harrison is 39 years old, so there is a possibility he will start to lose a step.

Season win total pick: Under 10.5