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2020 NFL Division Preview: AFC North

2020 NFL Division Preview: AFC North

Our 2020 NFL division previews continue today as we take a look at the AFC North! The Baltimore Ravens surprised many last season by taking out the division with an NFL best 14-2 record and will be looking to go back to back in the division. 

Can the Browns finally take the big step forward that fans have been expecting of them or will the Steelers bounce back from a rough 2019 with star QB Ben Roethlisberger back in the mix? 

The Bengals will likely be the minnows of the league but have an exciting young QB in the midst in No.1 overall pick Joe Burrows. 

View our other NFL season previews below:
NFL Outright Betting Picks
AFC East Preview

2020 AFC North Division Preview

The AFC North is usually a hotly contested division but last season was a bit of an outlier. The Ravens bursted out of the blocks and continued to charge through the season, finishing with a league best 14-2 record.

Injuries to Ben Roethlisberger early in the year derailed the Steelers season and while there was a lot of hype surrounding the Browns in the pre-season, they got off to a rocky start and just couldn’t recover. 

Both the Browns and the Steelers should be better this season, while the Bengals should at least be watchable with Burrows starting at QB. There’s no doubt that the NFC North will be a more interesting division than last season, and we have a full preview for each team, followed by our division pick below. 

baltimore ravens 2020 preview

Baltimore Ravens

Win Total Over/Under via DraftKings Sportsbook

Over 11 (-110)
Under 11 (-110)

The Ravens start as strong -200 favorites to take out the AFC North again this season and have a total win line of 11. Lamar Jackson is the reigning league MVP and it’s hard to imagine, but he should continue to improve this year as the offence continues to be tailored towards his style of play. 

The Ravens were the highest scoring offense in the league last season,averaging over 33 points per game and should be dynamic on that side of the ball again, especially with natural growth out of what is an extremely young core of skill position players in Jackson (23), Marquise Brown (22) and Mark Andrews (24). 

Notable Arrivals: DE Calais Campbell, DE Derek Wolfe
Notable Departures: DT Michael Pierce, LB Patrick Onwuasor, CB Brandon Carr

One area where the Ravens needed to improve was their pass rush. They ranked just 21st in the league last season for total sacks and reeled in just 13 interceptions, which was around average for the league. 

They addressed those issues with two quality signings in the offseason in defensive lineman Calais Campbenn and Derek Wolfe. Both should start immediately for the Ravens making their defence better. 

2020 Baltimore Ravens Schedule

Date OpponentTime/TV 
Sunday
Sep. 13
Cleveland BrownsM&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Sep. 20
at Houston TexansNRG Stadium, Houston, TX4:25pm ETCBS 
Monday
Sep. 28
Kansas City ChiefsM&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD8:15pm ETESPN 
Sunday
Oct. 4
at Washington RedskinsFedExField, Landover, MD1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Oct. 11
Cincinnati BengalsM&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Oct. 18
at Philadelphia EaglesLincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Oct. 25
Pittsburgh SteelersM&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Nov. 1
 BYE  
Sunday
Nov. 8
at Indianapolis ColtsLucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Nov. 15
at New England PatriotsGillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA8:20pm ETNBC 
Sunday
Nov. 22
Tennessee TitansM&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD1:00pm ETCBS 
Thursday
Nov. 26
at Pittsburgh SteelersHeinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA8:20pm ETNBC 
Thursday
Dec. 3
Dallas CowboysM&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD8:20pm ETFOX/NFLN/Amazon 
Monday
Dec. 14
at Cleveland BrownsFirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH8:15pm ETESPN 
Sunday
Dec. 20
Jacksonville JaguarsM&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Dec. 27
New York GiantsM&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD1:00pm ETFOX 
Sunday
Jan. 3
at Cincinnati BengalsPaul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH1:00pm ETCBS 

The easiest determining factor for our Ravens over pick this season is their strength of schedule. The AFC North has been blessed with facing off against the NFC East in their intra-conference matches this season, meaning Baltimore get really winnable games against the Giants and Redskins and a home clash against the Cowboys. 

Prediction

Record: 12-4

We are being conservative here when we say the Baltimore Ravens could go 12-4. They have an up and coming team full of young stars and an offense built around a quarterback who has revolutionised the position. Their offense hasn’t really been figured out yet, which should allow them another regular season of offensive dominance. 

All of that, combined with an easy schedule that sees their 2020 opponents having combined for just a 112-144 record last season (the lowest percentage in the league) should have them clearing the 11 win mark this season.

cincinnati bengals 2020 preview

Cincinnati Bengals

Win Total Over/Under via DraftKings Sportsbook

Over 6 (-110)
Under 6 (-110)

Cant be expecting too much from the Bengals this year after winning just two games in 2019 and finishing with the worst record in the league. After a slow start to the season, the Bengals embraced their poor play and tanked the rest of teh season to ensure they landed the No.1 pick. 

Bengals fans weren’t disappointed on draft night when they selected LSU star quarterback Joe Burrows, who had lead the Tigers to the NCAA Championship with an amazing year. All eyes will be on Burrows this season, and just a glimpse of something special will certainly be enough to keep the Bengals entertained for what will likely be another losing year. 

Notable Arrivals: DT D.J. Reader, CB Trae Waynes, S Vonn Bell
Notable Departures: TE Tyler Eifert, G John Miller, OT Cordy Glenn

The Bengals have spent over $100 million in free agency this season with the additions of Reader, Waynes and Bell who should all help their defence mightily. It was an area that desperately needed addressing after allowing 26.5 points per game last season. 

2020 Cincinnati Bengals Schedule

Date OpponentTime/TV 
Sunday
Sep. 13
LA ChargersLos Angeles ChargersPaul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH4:05pm ETCBS 
Thursday
Sep. 17
at Cleveland BrownsFirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH8:20pm ETNFLN 
Sunday
Sep. 27
at Philadelphia EaglesLincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Oct. 4
Jacksonville JaguarsPaul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Oct. 11
at Baltimore RavensM&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Oct. 18
at Indianapolis ColtsLucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN1:00pm ETFOX 
Sunday
Oct. 25
Cleveland BrownsPaul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Nov. 1
Tennessee TitansPaul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Nov. 8
 BYE  
Sunday
Nov. 15
at Pittsburgh SteelersHeinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA1:00pm ETFOX 
Sunday
Nov. 22
at Washington RedskinsFedExField, Landover, MD1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Nov. 29
New York GiantsPaul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH1:00pm ETFOX 
Sunday
Dec. 6
at Miami DolphinsHard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Dec. 13
Dallas CowboysPaul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH1:00pm ETFOX 
Monday
Dec. 21
Pittsburgh SteelersPaul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH8:15pm ETESPN 
Sunday
Dec. 27
at Houston TexansNRG Stadium, Houston, TX1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Jan. 3
Baltimore RavensPaul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH1:00pm ETCBS 

The Bengals have a tough little stretch to open up the season with trips to Philly and Cleveland in the first three weeks. If they are to prove anyone wrong this season and cover the six win line, they’ll need to be perfect over the three week stretch which sees them face the Redskins, Giants and Dolphins in back to back weeks. 

Prediction

Record: 4-12

Unfortunately, we just cant see them hitting the six win mark this season. While we think Burrows is good for one or two upset wins in big performances, they will still need to pull multiple wins as big underdogs to cover their win total. Four-five wins will be a solid first year for the rookie QB. 

cleveland-browns-2020-preview

Cleveland Browns

Win Total Over/Under via DraftKings Sportsbook

Over 8 (-134)
Under 8 (+110)

The Browns finished the 2019 regular season with a 6-10 record. They had a great stretch through the middle patch of the season where they won four of five games including wins over the Bills and Steelers, however, they lost their last three games of the year to miss the playoffs. 

It was a pretty disappointing first season in Cleveland for Odell Beckham Jr. The star receiver averaged just 64.7 catching yards per game, which was well below his final few years in New York. He’ll need to be 

Notable Arrivals: TE Austin Hooper, RT Jack Conklin, QB Case Keenum
Notable Departures: LB Joe Schobert, LB Christian Kirksey

Strange off season for the Browns. They used the majority of their cap room to bolster their offence with the addition of tight end Austin Hooper and tackle Jack Conklin. Both should improve the run game and give Mayfield extra time in the pocket. 

There is still a bit of a glaring issue on defence, however, particularly at linebacker. The Browns were just a middle of the road defense last season and will need to improve on that side of the ball to challenge for the AFC North division. 

2020 Cleveland Browns Schedule

Date OpponentTime/TV 
Sunday
Sep. 13
at Baltimore Ravens M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD1:00pm ETCBS 
Thursday
Sep. 17
Cincinnati Bengals FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH8:20pm ETNFLN 
Sunday
Sep. 27
Washington Redskins FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH1:00pm ETFOX 
Sunday
Oct. 4
at Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX1:00pm ETFOX 
Sunday
Oct. 11
Indianapolis Colts FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH4:25pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Oct. 18
at Pittsburgh Steelers Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Oct. 25
at Cincinnati Bengals Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Nov. 1
Las Vegas RaidersLas Vegas Raiders FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH1:00pm ETFOX 
Sunday
Nov. 8
 BYE  
Sunday
Nov. 15
Houston Texans FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH1:00pm ETFOX 
Sunday
Nov. 22
Philadelphia Eagles FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH1:00pm ETFOX 
Sunday
Nov. 29
at Jacksonville Jaguars TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Dec. 6
at Tennessee Titans Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN1:00pm ETCBS 
Monday
Dec. 14
Baltimore Ravens FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH8:15pm ETESPN 
Sunday
Dec. 20
at New York Giants MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Dec. 27
NY Jetsat New York Jets MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJTime TBA ETor Sat. Dec. 26 
Sunday
Jan. 3
Pittsburgh Steelers FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH1:00pm ETCBS 

Trips to Baltimore and Dallas in the first four weeks might be an issue, but they also have two home games against Cincinnati and Washington in the first month. If they can somehow come out of those first four games with a 3-1 record, they will be flying and set for a big season, especially with games against the Bengals, Raiders, Giants and Jets to come later in the season. 

Prediction

Record: 9-7

Eight wins seems right on point for the Browns this season, which is right where the bookmakers have them. We have a little more faith though. They have an extremely easy schedule, like all of the other teams in the division, being blessed with the NFC East matchups and games against the Dolphins and Jets also really help. Back the overs here. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Win Total Over/Under via DraftKings Sportsbook

Over 8.5 (-125)
Under 8.5 (+103)

The Steelers are the hardest team to place in this division for us. Sure, Ben Roethlisberger returns to the line-up after missing most of last season with an injury, but how much does the 38-year-old really have left in the tank? 

we are inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt after they finished 9-6-1 in 2018 but even with the likes Antonio Brown in uniform, they failed to make the playoffs. This season will no doubt contain a crossroads at one point or other for Steelers fans.  

Notable Arrivals: TE Eric Ebron, G Stefen Wisniewski, FB Derek Watt
Notable Departures: DT Javon Hargrave, S Sean Davis, G Ramon Foster

The Steelers had seven unrestricted free agents at the end of last season and six of them headed for the hills. Could this be troubling signs for Pittsburgh and the sign of something bigger on the horizon? 

Players are usually the first to know a sinking ship, so there is definitely cause for concern. They did manage to sign Eric Ebron, who should help in the passing game, but a small consolation after losing really key defensive players.

2020 Pittsburgh Steelers Schedule

Date OpponentTime/TV 
Monday
Sep. 14
at New York GiantsMetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ7:15pm ETESPN 
Sunday
Sep. 20
Denver BroncosHeinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Sep. 27
Houston TexansHeinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Oct. 4
at Tennessee TitansNissan Stadium, Nashville, TN1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Oct. 11
Philadelphia EaglesHeinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA1:00pm ETFOX 
Sunday
Oct. 18
Cleveland BrownsHeinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Oct. 25
at Baltimore RavensM&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Nov. 1
 BYE  
Sunday
Nov. 8
at Dallas CowboysAT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX4:25pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Nov. 15
Cincinnati BengalsHeinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA1:00pm ETFOX 
Sunday
Nov. 22
at Jacksonville JaguarsTIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL1:00pm ETCBS 
Thursday
Nov. 26
Baltimore RavensHeinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA8:20pm ETNBC 
Sunday
Dec. 6
Washington RedskinsHeinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA1:00pm ETFOX 
Sunday
Dec. 13
at Buffalo BillsNew Era Field, Orchard Park, NY8:20pm ETNBC 
Monday
Dec. 21
at Cincinnati BengalsPaul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH8:15pm ETESPN 
Sunday
Dec. 27
Indianapolis ColtsHeinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA1:00pm ETCBS 
Sunday
Jan. 3
at Cleveland BrownsFirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH1:00pm ETCBS 

The Steelers have a winnable game on opening day but then have an absolute horror run all the way through until their bye round in week eight. Over that span, they have vs Denver, vs Houston, at Tennesse, vs Philadelphia, vs Cleveland, at Baltimore and at Dallas.

The schedule gets considerably easier after that, but it might be too late at that stage. 

Prediction

Record: 7-9

Really thinking the Steelers could start the season 2-5 or worse, especially with Big Ben just returning from injury and an offence that is largely unproven with new pieces. 

We expect Cleveland to take a step in the AFC North which should send Pittsburgh down into the third place. Expect them to finish the season in a bit of a flurry, but that first 8 week stretch could prove brutal. 

AFC North Division Winner

Not a hard one to pick here. Baltimore should walk this division in and the bookmakers agree, setting thier line at a meagre -200. 

Cleveland is a Lamar Jackson injury away from making this division interesting, and with the amount of hits Jackson takes in the run game, the Browns might be a value bet at +500. But do you really want to be the guy that bets against Lamar Jackson? We don’t. 

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