Like the AFC East, we do not think that you will get rich playing futures in this division either. That said, even money may not be such a bad deal on the Steelers if the Ravens are only +120, as we feel that the disparity between the two teams is much greater than that.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+100): The Steelers overcame a suspect offensive line to win the AFC last year, and yet they used four of their first five draft picks on defense, a unit that for years has carried them through when the offense has sputtered. Then again, the one offensive player they did draft early, guard Marcus Gilbert from Florida, can upgrade the line immediately if he learns how to pick up edge defenders in NFL 3-4 defenses. Also, whatever you think off him off the field, Ben Roethlisberger is a winner on it and the Steelers will have him from the outset this year.
(Also see: Steelers Super Bowl Odds – Over/Under Wins – NFC Champ Odds)
Baltimore Ravens (+120): The Ravens are always close to dethroning Pittsburgh, but they have always been held back by their inability to beat the Steelers head-to-head. In fact, Roethlisberger is now 6-0 all-time in his head-to-head meetings with Joe Flacco after Pittsburgh knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs last season. As if that is not bad enough, Flacco will now have to work with a new quarterbacks coach after Jim Zorn was let go because he reportedly did not get along with Cam Cameron. Zorn was a key reason for Flacco’s nice development, so it remains to be seen if Joe will slip a bit. Baltimore will not finish ahead of Pittsburgh this year either.
(Also see: Ravens Super Bowl Odds – Over/Under Wins – NFC Champ Odds)
Cincinnati Bengals (+1200): The Bengals are the longest shots in the division, and just because we are picking them third, do not rush out to buy futures tickets on them. The positives are that the Bengals played surprisingly hard down the stretch last year, eliminating the Chargers and nearly upsetting the Saints, and we like the fact that they brought in a new offensive coordinator in Jay Gruden. The negative is that Carson Palmer wants out, although maybe Gruden’s offensive schemes can make him happy. In the end though, our picking the Bengals third has more to do with us not trusting the Browns than it does with trusting Cincinnati.
(Also see: Bengals Super Bowl Odds – Over/Under Wins – NFC Champ Odds)
Cleveland Browns (+700): We think that the Browns are severely undervalued at 7/1. Yes, Colt McCoy had a few great games at quarterback last year, but he was mainly inconsistent, and his success usually relied on the success of the real key to this team, running back Peyton Hillis. We love Hillis and his hard-nosed style, but his recklessness makes him injury prone, as evidenced by the games he missed last season. Still, you don’t really want to rein him back either, so it is almost inevitable that he will miss a couple of games this year, and the Cleveland offense was totally inept without him. Look for a more disappointing year from the Browns than most people expect.
(Also see: Browns Super Bowl Odds – Over/Under Wins – NFC Champ Odds)
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