AFC North: The Hard Knocks Division

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The AFC North used to be one of the most competitive in the NFL, but that’s changed with the ineptitude of the Browns and the inconsistency of the Bengals.

This year things look a little more unpredictable, although the Steelers are once again the class of the division.

AFC North

2017 Standings
1 Pittsburgh Steelers 13-3
2 Baltimore Ravens 9-7
3 Cincinnati Bengals 7-9
4 Cleveland Browns 0-16

Ranking The Coaches
1 (tie) Mike Tomlin: Has a Super Bowl ring, is a great motivator, but makes some odd in-game decisions.
1 (tie) John Harbaugh: Also has a Super Bowl ring and at times, seems to do less with more than Tomlin.
3 Marvin Lewis: Still in charge, despite lack of success and lack of discipline.
4 Hue Jackson: They were 0-16 last year, need I say more?

Ranking The QBs
1 Ben Roethlisberger: Still one of the best in all of football, with two Super Bowl rings to go with all sorts of passing records.
2 Joe Flacco: Has a ring but slowly drifting into old man status – was never mobile, now is more like a statue.
3 Andy Dalton: Shows flashes of brilliance and flashes of, well, ugliness.
4 Tyrod Taylor/Baker Mayfield: A good combo, need to wait and see who gets the bulk of the playing time before making a call.

Ranking The Fans
1 Pittsburgh: They’re great fans in general, but with success on the field, they have even more chances to wave the Terrible Towels.
2 Baltimore: Burned by the Colts’ move to Indianapolis years ago, Baltimore fans were hungry for a new team and they’ve embraced it completely.
3 Cleveland: For all the negative press and photos of bags over heads, the Cleveland fans are loyal and passionate.
4 Cincinnati: Hard to totally back a team as erratic and self-destructing as the Bengals.

Odds and Opinions
–Pittsburgh ($1.30 to win the division)
–Baltimore ($5.50)
–Cincinnati ($10)
–Cleveland ($13)

Smacken The Trader Says
“I think the Steelers have the best offense in the NFL. With Le’Veon Bell carrying the pill (Note: assuming he signs and reports) and Big Ben throwing to Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster and newly acquired James Washington, they should light up the scoreboard. I really like the $10 for them to be the highest scoring regular season team.”

“I’m high on the Bengals this year – their offensive production was such a statistical anomaly in 2017. Upgrades to the offensive line in the offseason should allow Andy Dalton to flourish with AJ Green, and actually have enough time to throw a deep ball to John Ross.”

“Once you get past New England and Pittsburgh, you can throw a blanket over most of the other AFC teams. With a favourable schedule, I think the Bengals can run close in December and I’ve backed them to make the playoffs at $6.”

Wyatt Says
“Steelers to win it again, but I agree with Smacken, the Bengals have the talent and the schedule to have a big season…even though I don’t trust them.”

“The Browns will be fascinating to follow. With all the hype around Baker Mayfield and the HBO ‘Hard Knocks’ series, I can’t help but take an interest. I think they win 3-4 games this season.”

Markets

NFL Division Markets here – odds subject to change.

What do you think?