We started our NFL division previews with the AFC East in which the Buffalo Bills are the overwhelming favorite. The AFC North however, is a different story. This could be the most wide-open division in football with all four teams confident they can win it. The Cincinnati Bengals were the third different team to win the North in as many years and are co-favorites with the Baltimore Ravens in 2022. With the retirement of longtime Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh drops all the way to the bottom in the projected odds board.
AFC North Standings 
The Ravens are hoping Lamar Jackson returns to his MVP-form, but he’ll have to do it with a very young receiving corps. Gone are veterans Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins, so Jackson will have to rely on Devin Duvernay and Rashod Bateman. The Ravens signed five undrafted rookie wide receivers after not selecting any in April’s draft. Of course, Jackson still has one of the best tight ends in the league in Mark Andrews. The Ravens selected offensive lineman Tyler Linderbaum in the first round to bolster the O-line. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale and two of his assistant coaches were fired in the offseason. Safety Kyle Hamilton, linebacker David Ojabo and defensive tackle Travis Jones were selected in the draft. The secondary, featuring Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, will be the defensive strong suit.
Odds to Win AFC North (as of 7/7/22):
Baltimore Ravens +160
Cincinnati Bengals +190
Cleveland Browns +275
Pittsburgh Steelers +1000
The defending division champs should be as strong, if not better, than last year. The Bengals offense was extremely efficient behind Joe Burrow and should be even better with improvements on the O-line. They signed guard Alex Cappa from Tampa Bay, center Ted Karras from New England and tackle La’el Collins from Dallas. Burrow has a strong backfield in Chris Evans and Joe Mixon as well as talented wideouts in Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Cincy lost tight end C.J. Uzomah but signed Hayden Hurst to replace him. Cincinnati used its first two draft picks on safety Daxton Hill and Cam Taylor-Britt to bolster secondary.
The Cleveland Browns continue to make mistakes on and off the field. Not happy with quarterback Baker Mayfield, the Browns decided to send a package of draft picks, including three first-rounders, to Houston for Deshaun Watson. Watson is being sued by a number of women alleging sexual misconduct during massages and is the subject of a league investigation. Watson could be in for a lengthy suspension and Mayfield asked for a trade. He got his wish on June 6 when he was traded to the Carolina Panthers. According to the latest QB depth chart, the Browns might have to go with Jacoby Brissett to start the season. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt form one of the best backfields in the league and signing wide receiver Amari Cooper from Dallas will help whoever the QB is.
Season Win Totals (as of 7/7/22):
Baltimore Ravens 10 o125
Cincinnati Bengals 10 o125
Cleveland Browns OFF
Pittsburgh Steelers 7.5 o120
Bringing up the rear in the division will most likely be the Pittsburgh Steelers. The main reason is the retirement of future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger. That position will take a major hit and will now be led by Mitch Trubisky or 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett. Pittsburgh lost receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington, but still have Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson. Running back Najee Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth will enter their second seasons. The Steelers didn’t do much to improve a weak offensive line, signing only James Daniels in the offseason. T.J. Watt will compete for NFL Defensive Player of the Year again, while Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the top safeties in the NFL.
Jay’s Season Win Total Best Bet: My best win bet for this division will be the same as my division winner – the Cincinnati Bengals. This team is a legitimate threat to win the Super Bowl. 11 wins should be attainable despite a schedule that gets tough near season’s end.
Bengals OVER 10 -120
Jay’s Pick to Win Division: The Cincinnati offensive line is vastly improved, which makes Burrow even more dangerous. The Ravens are the only team that can give them a run, but I’m starting to lose faith in Lamar Jackson.
To see more odds and props for the AFC North, click here.
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