The Cleveland Browns (11/8 – AFC North Outright) look to be a team on the up and they have a great chance of overcoming AFC North rivals Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to win the division for the first time.
After the NFL season was revamped in 2002 when expanding to 32 teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been top dogs, winning the AFC North eight times, while Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals have topped the division five and four times respectively.
Freddie Kitchens’ (pictured) Cleveland are yet to taste success since the realignment, having last been crowned divisional champions in 1989 when winning the now-defunct AFC Central, but they look a strong proposition to break their duck this season.
The Browns hit rock-bottom in 2017 after failing to win a single game during that campaign but they showed signs of revival the following year, going 7-8-1 in 2018 to finish third in AFC North.
Cleveland’s offense was also boosted massively in March this year when wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr was traded to the Ohio-based outfit in exchange for Jabrill Peppers and the Browns’ first-round and their second third-round pick.
Running back Nick Chubb adds further fire to the offensive line. From Week 7 last season, the 23-year-old led the entire league in rushing (88.0 YPG) and no running back saw a higher share of his team carries (75 percent) in this span.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield is also being tipped to enjoy a successful season, having looked impressive from Weeks 9-17 last season, making 68 percent completions and enjoying a 52 percent success rate.
Cleveland look to be one of the most intriguing teams on paper heading into the 2019 campaign and they are 10/3 to reach the AFC Conference Final, with only 5/4 Kansas City Chiefs are ahead of them in the betting.
In terms of the other three AFC North teams, Cincinnati (20/1 – AFC North Outright) look set for one or two seasons of finding out what style best suits them under new first-time head coach Zac Taylor after parting ways with longtime boss Marvin Lewis.
The 36-year old Taylor has only been an NFL offensive coordinator for five games with the Miami Dolphins in 2015 and there are questions marks over whether he is ready for the step up.
Baltimore made the decision to get rid of veterans C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith, hurting their linebacking options, while safety Eric Weddle and long-time quarterback Joe Flacco have also left.
A lot will rest on the shoulders of QB Lamar Jackson, who enjoyed an impressive rookie season last year, and the 11/4 Ravens may find it tough to win the AFC North.
Looking at Pittsburgh, they made the bold decision to trade star receiver Antonio Brown, who caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, to the Oakland Raiders.
Running back Le’Veon Bell has also departed, signing a four-year, 52.5 million dollar contract with the New York Jets and the duo’s absence could really hurt the Steelers’ (7/4 – AFC North Outright) offense.