2021 AFC North Betting Pick
June 22, 2021
✅ Both the Browns and Ravens are much better teams playing from ahead, and are much more game script dependent than the Steelers are.
✅ The Steelers return the best defense in the divison, and perhaps the entire league.
✅ The Steelers boast one of the best receiving corps in the league, and now have a bellcow back in Najee Harris to balance the offense.
The AFC North will remains one of the more high end and competitive divisions in the NFL for 2021. The Bengals are developing, but are likely to be a year away from entering the realistic divisional title picture. For 2021, we are likely looking at a three horse race between the Browns, Steelers and Ravens.
AFC North Betting Pick
✅ 2021 will bring another competitve season in the AFC North. The Baltimore Ravens (+125) and Cleveland Browns (+145) are the teams getting respect from the oddsmakers and gamblers alike. While it makes sense to leave the Cincinatti Bengals (+2000) out of the divisional title picture, it does not make sense to do so for the Pittsburgh Steelers (+400).
✅ Yes the Browns and Ravens remain high end teams, and will almost certainly finish with winning records, both teams have flaws and do not bring value for a divisional win wager. The Ravens have the most glaring flaw, and that is with their passing game as a whole. The Ravens have gone so far as to not allow media to film Lamar Jackson throwing this offseason, and their offense as a whole could suffer if there are no steps forward with their passing game. The Browns have a similar concern with their passing game, but theirs is not quarterback related. The Browns simply need more out of their collective pass catching corps in 2021. They were a game script dependent team in 2020 and were far more dangerous playing from ahead when they could ride Nick Chubb to victories.
✅ I believe the Steelers to return not just the best defense in the division, but the best defense in the league. They are formidable at each level and are prone to both sacks and takeaways. It was the offense that failed them in 2020, and there were multiple issues. The most glaring was the lack of a true running game and difference making play from the running back position. The Steelers addressed this as well as any team could, drafting Najee Harris in the first round of the NFL draft. He will be a bell cow from Day 1 and will bring back running back competence that the Steelers have been missing since the decline and departure of Leveon Bell.
✅ The other issue the Steelers offense faced was in the arm strength issues of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after major surgery. It wasn't until this offseason that Roethlisberger talked about the extent of the surgery and how he was affected by it in 2020. He claims his arm feels better than it did last year, and if true, that is terrible news for opposing defenses. The Steelers may quietly have the best receiving corps in the league. Diontae Johnson is quietly bordering on an elite player in the league. Chase Claypool has an unlimited ceiling and already proved effective in 2020. Additionally the Steelers were able to bring back Juju Smith-Schuester to continue to work underneath. With a better deep ball combined with a real run game, the Steelers offense will be a difficult one to stop.
✅ I feel the Steelers have at least as few if not fewer question marks than the Ravens, and bring a far better defense than the Browns. For the betting line to be around three times more lucrative than these other two teams, there is absolutely value to attack on the 4 to 1 return.
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