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NFL Futures: AFC North Win Totals and Record Predictions for Bengals, Browns, Ravens, and Steelers

by May 15, 2020

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The NFL schedule was released and one way to make a decent coin is betting on your favorite team’s projected win totals entering the season.

You can find some good value on NFL win total props following the draft and before any more trades happen, cough cough, Odell Beckham (just kidding), or any season-altering injuries. In this article, I focus on an AFC North division that has the easiest scheduling in the league entering 2020.

Each team will have a breakdown of the 2020 season and what to expect with their schedule, returners, newcomers, my over/under win total pick and record prediction. Let’s kick it off with the defending North-champs, the Baltimore Ravens.

Find consensus odds and over/unders for all teams’ win totals using BettingPros Team Future Lines >>

Baltimore Ravens

  • 2019 Record: 14-2
  • 2020 Strength of Schedule: 112-144 (0.438%) – 32nd easiest
  • 2020 Win Total (FanDuel): Over 11.5 (+105) / Under 11.5 (-125)
  • 2020 Win Total (DraftKings): Over 11 (-125) / Under 11 (+103)

The Baltimore Ravens won a franchise-best 14 games last season, but their season ended shockingly to the Tennessee Titans mini-cinderella story. Since 2003, three teams or more have recorded 12 or more wins in a single season each year, and last season, the NFL had six teams — the most since 2011.

The Ravens went 5-1 in AFC North play and enter this season with the league’s easiest schedule. Lamar Jackson is the reigning MVP and teams will have another season of trying to figure out how to slow down the most athletic quarterback in league history. He recorded the first 3,000-yards passing and 1,000-yards rushing season in history while collecting 43 total touchdowns and can become the first quarterback in NFL history to record consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

Baltimore’s offense was the best in team history leading the league in scoring as the only team to average over 30 points per game (33.2) and broke the NFL’s single-season record for rushing yards (3,296). The Ravens offensive line finished second in Pro Football Focus’ 2019 offensive line rankings after last season and now, throw in 2020 draft selections, running back J.K. Dobbins (2nd), wide receiver Devin Duvernay (3rd), plus offensive guards Tyre Phillips (3rd) and Ben Bredeson (4th) to that already historic offense — not many defenses will know what hit them in 2020.

On paper, the Ravens certainly appear in line for 12 or more wins, and if you had to pick a handful of teams to win 12 games; the Ravens, Chiefs49ers, and Saints are the front-runners from each conference. In the past five seasons, the Patriots have won 12 games an NFL-best four times, the Chiefs three times, and the Saints twice. The Ravens could be the latest team to go back-to-back 12 win seasons next to the Saints and Chiefs who are going for three consecutive years of 12 or more victories.

2019 BAL (14-2) GB (13-3) NO (13-3) SF (13-3) KC (12-4) NE 12-4
2018 LAR (13-3) NO (13-3) KC (12-4) LAC/SD (12-4) CHI (12-4)
2017 NE (13-3) PIT (13-3) PHI (13-3) MIN (13-3)
2016 NE (14-2) DAL (13-3) KC (12-4) OAK/LV (12-4)
2015 CAR (15-1) ARI (13-3) NE (12-4) DEN (12-4) CIN (12-4)

 
Baltimore will try to join that list this season and with 10 of 11 returning starters on offense and the additions of Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe on defense – they just keep on getting deeper. The 2019 defense finished fourth in total yards (4,809), second with 15 allowed passing touchdowns, second in QB knockdowns (59), and was head over heels the highest blitzing team in the league at 54.9%. The Ravens return an inexperienced linebacker unit, but they handled that too in the draft. They drafted backers Patrick Queen (1st) and Malik Harrison (3rd) to play alongside Matt Judon as the likely starting linebackers. Baltimore also added Justin Madubuike (3rd) and Broderick Washington (5th) for insurance on the defensive line through the draft.

The Ravens nearly swept the AFC North last season and this year will be a little tougher with the Steelers welcoming quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back and the Browns hiring yet another new coach. Here are my predictions for the Ravens 2020 schedule.

Week 1 Vs Browns Ravens Win Week 10 At Patriots, SNF Ravens Win
Week 2 At Texans Ravens Win Week 11 Vs Titans Ravens Win
Week 3 Vs Chiefs, MNF Chiefs Win Week 12 At Steelers, SNF Steelers Win
Week 4 Vs Redskins Ravens Win Week 13 Vs Cowboys, TNF Cowboys Win
Week 5 Vs Bengals Ravens Win Week 14 At Browns, MNF Ravens Win
Week 6 At Eagles Eagles Win Week 15 Vs Jaguars Ravens Win
Week 7 Vs Steelers Ravens Win Week 16 Vs Giants Ravens Win
Week 9 At Colts Ravens Win Week 17 At Bengals Ravens Win

 

2020 Record Prediction: 12-4

For having the easiest strength of schedule in the NFL, they have a tough stretch of games from Week 6 to Week 14 playing seven-straight potential playoff games. The last three games of the season is a perfect primer for Baltimore to walk into a No. 1 or 2 seed facing three of the worst overall teams in the league this year. The highlight of the schedule will be Week 3 hosting Kansas City on Monday Night Football, and Thanksgiving date with the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 12 — both games I give Baltimore losses but wins in primetime on SNF vs New England and MNF vs Cleveland.

The Ravens aren’t going to cake-walk through their schedule like they did last season, but few teams should be able to hold Action Jackson and the offense around 20-to-24 points. The secondary of Earl Thomas, Marlon Humphrey, and Marcus Peters is one of the best trios in the league, paired with a new and improved defensive front seven, plus the easiest schedule in the NFL — bet the over 11.5 wins for +105 as it’ll be the Ravens, Chiefs, or both that reach 12 wins.

The Pick: Over 11.5 (+105) at FanDuel Sportsbook

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • 2019 Record: 8-8
  • 2020 Strength of Schedule: 117-139 (0.457%) – 31st easiest
  • 2020 Win Total (FanDuel): Over 9 (-110) / Under 9 (-110)
  • 2020 Win Total (DraftKings): Over 8.5 (-125) / Under 8.5 +103

Every year, the Pittsburgh Steelers are a boom or bust for a Super Bowl appearance, mostly depending on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s health. Off an elbow injury that cost him 14 games in 2019, Pittsburgh’s offense proved they need him more than ever after a painful season in which the offense averaged 18.1 points per game (27th) and the defense allowed 18.9 (T-5th).

The Steelers defense was the league’s leaders in sacks (54), pressures (180), yards after catch (1378), and had the second-most QB knockdowns per pass attempts (10.9%) on the seventh-most called blitzes in 2020 (36.9%). After trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick from Miami, which was the steal of the decade for Pittsburgh, altered their season and defense around in a snap of a finger. Not since the emergence of James Harrison or Troy Polamalu has the Steelers and fans witnessed a player elevate his 10 comrades on the field in the way he has, and for that reason among plenty of others, they are a top-five unit across the board in 2020.

Pittsburgh lost Javon Hargrave to Philadelphia and tagged Bud Dupree for $15.828M as their most notable offseason moves. The Steelers signed Chris Wormley from their division rival Ravens and made a splash with signing Eric Ebron who is by far the most athletic tight end of the Roethlisberger-era. Pittsburgh lost 11-year-vet Ramon Foster to retirement, so they filled that gap with Chiefs Super Bowl champ Stefen Wisniewski and Kevin Dotson (6th) in the draft. Kevin Colbert also added 6-foot-4 and 238-pound WR Chase Claypool (2nd) and hybrid edge rusher Alex Highsmith (3rd) in the 2020 draft as their top two selections.

Roethlisberger’s health has meant everything to the Steelers and the 38-year-old has the pieces around him to improve on their 8-8 finish last season. Luckily, the AFC North faces the NFC East and AFC South divisions this season while Pittsburgh will face Denver and Buffalo as their two at-large opponents. The Steelers defense kept them in just about every game last season and they’ll need that same intensity and confidence this year to be back in contention for a playoff spot.

Betting on a Steelers season of 10 wins or 8 losses is tough, especially with Roethlisberger’s long-term health in question, but after that horrific play at quarterback last season — that defense proved it can carry almost anybody. Here are my projections of the Steelers 2020 season.

Week 1 At Giants, MNF Steelers Win Week 10 Vs Bengals Steelers Win
Week 2 Vs Broncos Steelers Win Week 11 At Jaguars Jaguars Win
Week 3 Vs Texans Steelers Win Week 12 Vs Ravens, SNF Steelers Win
Week 4 At Titans Titans Win Week 13 Vs Redskins Steelers Win
Week 5 Vs Eagles Eagles Win Week 14 At Bills, SNF Bills Win
Week 6 Vs Browns Steelers Win Week 15 At Bengals, MNF Steelers Win
Week 7 At Ravens Ravens Win Week 16 Vs Colts Steelers Win
Week 9 At Cowboys Cowboys Win Week 17 At Browns Browns Win

 

2020 Record Prediction: 9-7

Pittsburgh schedule provides three-straight winnable games to open the season before the next five weeks are versus teams that finished 46-31 (59.74%) in 2019. Opening up on MNF versus the Giants and then home games versus the Broncos and Texans. A thanksgiving clash with the Ravens then Sunday Night in Buffalo will be two of the biggest games on the schedule. Down the line, the Bengals on MNF then Indianapolis and Cleveland are a decent way to end the season, but we saw Pittsburgh lose to the Jets in Week 16 and the Ravens without Lamar Jackson in Week 17.

Giving the Steelers tough home wins versus the Broncos, Texans, and a split with the Ravens (only loss I’m giving BAL in AFC North), plus road losses to the Bills, Cowboys, and Titans rounds out to a 9-7 record. Pittsburgh isn’t far off from being a 10-6 team or a 6-10 team for that matter, but with 50/50 games versus the Bills, Colts, Cowboys, Eagles, and Titans — anything can happen.

The Steelers are also notoriously known for playing down to their competition, and this could be a year-long problem with the second-easiest schedule in the league behind the Ravens. The Steelers beat the Colts (26-24) and lost to the Bills(17-10) last season giving them a 4-4 record versus 2019 opponents including the six AFC North games.

If you are betting on the Steelers, it’s probably best to back Big Ben and this rejuvenated defense to have more wins than losses even if that means going 9-7 and getting your money back on a push. It’s going to be hard to score 20 or more points on that defense in 2020 and the Steelers won’t finish with 30 turnovers (T-26th) this season with Roethlisberger under center. If you bet on DraftKings, you can get the 8.5 rather than 9 on FanDuel canceling out the possibility of a push.

The Pick: Over 8.5 (-125) at FanDuel Sportsbook

Cleveland Browns

  • 2019 Record: 6-10
  • 2020 Strength of Schedule: 118-138 (0.461%) – 29th easiest
  • 2020 Win Total (FanDuel): Over 8.5 (+100) / Under 8.5 (-120)
  • 2020 Win Total (DraftKings): Over 8 (-134) / Under 8 (+100)

The Cleveland Browns enter year three under quarterback Baker Mayfield and it will be his third year under a new head coach. Coming over from Minnesota, Kevin Stefanski gives the Dawg Pound its best chance at above .500 for the first time since 2007. Stefanski has a ground-and-pound style approach and after adding Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills (1st) in the draft, they’ve beefed up that 23rd ranked line from a year ago for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to run wild.

Chubb and Hunt are coming off a successful season together combing for 2,236 total yards and 11 total touchdowns. They take the pressure off Mayfield who returns mostly the same supporting cast from a season ago but with the addition of former Falcons tight end Austin Hooper. Hooper is a legitimate red-zone threat, as he finished tied for second among tight ends with 10 red zone receptions in 2019, with all six of his touchdowns coming inside the 20-yard line (T-3rd).

Returning to the receiving corps are star wideouts, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Even with the duo, Mayfield regressed in 2019 throwing the second-most interceptions (21) in the league last season after 14 as a rookie in 2018. The Browns drafted Donovan Peoples-Jones in the 6th round to be their potential No. 3 receiver, but that doesn’t seem like enough, especially with the Beckham trade rumors constantly swirling.

Taking a look at Cleveland’s schedule, they have tough challenges with out of division home games versus the Colts, Eagles, Raiders, and Texans, plus road contests with the Cowboys, Jets, and Titans — giving them a lot of 50/50 ball-games. I gave them a 3-3 AFC North record and a 5-3 finish in overall home contests, but it still may not be enough for a team that hasn’t won more than three road games since 2002 — when Tim Couch was the quarterback.

Week 1 At Ravens Ravens Win Week 10 Vs Texans Browns Win
Week 2 Vs Bengals, TNF Browns Win Week 11 Vs Eagles Eagles Win
Week 3 Vs Redskins Browns Win Week 12 At Jaguars Browns Win
Week 4 At Cowboys Cowboys Win Week 13 At Titans Titans Win
Week 5 Vs Colts Colts Win Week 14 Vs Ravens, MNF Ravens Win
Week 6 At Steelers Steelers Win Week 15 At Giants Browns Win
Week 7 At Bengals Browns Win Week 16 At Jets Jets Win
Week 8 Vs Raiders Browns Win Week 17 Vs Steelers Browns Win

 

2020 Record Prediction: 8-8

Cleveland’s first eight games of the seasons seems a lot better than the last eight with four very winnable home games.  The Browns’ final four road games are the key aspect in their schedule. They will be in Jacksonville, Tennessee, and New York twice for the Jets and Giants. They could win three of those four road games alone along with Cincinnati and stealing one from Baltimore or Pittsburgh on the road would most likely give them a winning season.

I predicted the Browns with three road wins before the schedule dropped, go figure, and even versus the Giants, Jaguars, and Jets who all could be under-.500 — victories versus them aren’t a given. The Browns bread and butter will be the running game this season and besides the Bengals, the Jaguars are the only team they face on the road that ranked 13th or worse in rushing yards allowed per game in 2019.

Stefanski’s offense finished 6th in rushing (133.3) last season and 23rd in passing (220.2), one spot behind the Browns, and I do expect the Browns to improve off last season’s 6-10 finish, but unfortunately, I’m not ready to commit my money on an above .500 season in Cleveland — and you shouldn’t either.

The Pick: Under 8.5 (-120) at FanDuel Sportsbook

Cincinnati Bengals

  • 2019 Record: 2-14
  • 2020 Strength of Schedule: 118-138 (0.477%) – 27th easiest
  • 2020 Win Total (FanDuel): Over 5.5 (-130) / Under 5.5 (+110)
  • 2020 Win Total (DraftKings): Over 6 (-110) / Under 6 (-110)

The Bengals are now focused on 2020 and on after selecting LSU quarterback Joe Burrow No. 1 overall. Whether or not he’s the Week 1 starter, Cincinnati has started moving in a new direction. Reports are Burrow has been studying the Bengals playbook for weeks before he was drafted in anticipation of being a Bengal. He must have impressed enough, because, on April 30, Andy Dalton was released and the future officially arrived.

In 2019, there wasn’t much to cheer for in Cincinnati, but this season already feels different. The two highlights for the Bengals offensively were Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd having career years. Mixon put together his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season and Boyd caught a career-high 90 receptions for 1,046 yards. The two combined for 2,493 yards from scrimmage which were responsible for 48.2% of the team’s offensive yardage. The Bengals also added WR Tee Higgins (2nd) in the draft and get a much-needed boost with A.J. Green expected to make his return in 2020 after having Ankle Ligament Repair surgery that took 4-6 months of recovery.

The lows of 2019 were really low for the Bengals, including the 30th-ranked offensive line and an offense that managed 17.4 points per game (30th). The defense didn’t fare much better finishing 25th in the league with 26.3 points per game and tied-30th in total takeaways with 16. They were the worst in rushing defense allowing an NFL-high and franchise-worst 148.9 rushing yards per game.

This offseason, the Bengals added three linebackers and two defensive linemen through the draft and free agency, to go with their splash signings in an attempt to revamp the entire secondary; Trae Waynes, Vonn Bell, Mackensie Alexander, and LeShaun Sims. Even with all the new additions, it’s difficult to pinpoint where Cincinnati can earn six wins.

Week 1 Vs Chargers Chargers Win Week 10 At Steelers Steelers Win
Week 2 At Browns, TNF Browns Win Week 11 At Redskins Bengals Win
Week 3 At Eagles Eagles Win Week 12 Vs Giants Giants Win
Week 4 Vs Jaguars Bengals Win Week 13 At Dolphins Bengals Win
Week 5 At Ravens Ravens Win Week 14 Vs Cowboys Cowboys Win
Week 6 At Colts Colts Win Week 15 Vs Steelers, MNF Steelers Win
Week 7 Vs Browns Browns Win Week 16 At Texans Texans Win
Week 8 Vs Titans Titans Win Week 17 Vs Ravens Ravens Win

 

2020 Record Prediction: 3-13

The Bengals season opening up versus the L.A. Chargers will be a tough task and in Cleveland and Philly the next two weeks. The first nine games is a tough stretch, but there are few winnable games on the schedule for Burrow.

For the Bengals to go 6-10 that would require at least one win in the division and anywhere from four-to-six victories versus either the Chargers, Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins, Giants, Jaguars, Redskins, Texans, and Titans. Not to mention, the Bengals will struggle with Burrow to find wins versus an AFC North division that features three of the top-12 defenses from a season ago.

The Bengals will improve on two wins no matter who it is under center, but that three-to-five win-range is right where they should be. Take the under as five wins are the best-case scenario for Cincinnati in my opinion and this would be a bet I would double-down on with the under 6 wins (-110) and 5.5 (+110).

The Pick: Under 5.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook

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Vaughn Dalzell is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Vaughn, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @VaughnDalzell.

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