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AFC North Regular Season Review

Perennially one of the best divisions in football, the AFC North served up another season of intrigue and excitement this season.

BettingSports.com takes a look back at how the division played out for bettors and fans alike.


By no means was it pretty but the Baltimore Ravens managed to win the AFC North and book a trip to the postseason.

With a 9-2 record at the end of Week 12, Baltimore looked like a serious threat this season. That record was somewhat deceptive though.

The Ravens actually struggled with offensive and defensive rhythm for much of the season. A team that had built its reputation as a defensive beast struggled to shutdown teams, while offensively the side was hit and miss.

Four losses in the final five games gave Raven fans and bettors something to worry about, but the side secured the AFC North with a win over the New York Giants in Week 16, although Cincinnati’s win over Pittsburgh that same week had as much to do with the end result. A loss to the Bengals on the last day of the season ensured that the Ravens have next to no momentum heading into the playoffs.

What Paid Out

  • At 3/2, Baltimore was second favorite (behind Pittsburgh) to win the AFC North. Those bettors that took the Ravens over the Steelers are sitting pretty right now.
  • It might have been a little bumpy down the stretch, but Baltimore fulfilled bookmakers’ predictions by securing a postseason berth. Those taking 4/7 odds of the Ravens reaching the postseason have been rewarded for their faith in the side.
  • Oddsmakers had Baltimore winning 10 games this season. The original stake returns to bettors that took either the over (8/5) or under (1/2) thanks to the push.

Going Forward

Ahead of the season, odds of Baltimore winning the AFC title were 7/1, fourth in the conference. Ahead of this weekend’s Wild Card games, those odds have extended to 11/1, still fourth.

The Ravens opened the season with 40/1 odds of winning Super Bowl XLVII, ninth in the league. Today, those odds stand at 22/1, still ninth in the league.

Baltimore (10-6, 6-2 home) will host Indianapolis (11-5, 4-4 road) on Sunday (1 PM ET) in a Wild Card playoff game. The Ravens open as favorites with the spread at 6.5. The total stands at 46.


At 3-1 the Bengals looked impressive. At 3-5 the side looked dead in the water. But in one of the strangest NFL seasons for some time, Cincinnati became one of the league’s form teams, racking-up seven wins in the last eight games to finish the season with 10 wins and a playoff berth.

Having made the postseason last year, oddsmakers didn’t like the Bengals’ chances this year. The Bengals though made a mark in the division, extinguishing Pittsburgh’s postseason hopes late in the year, whilst booking only the second back-to-back playoff appearances in franchise history.

What Paid Out

  • Cincinnati failed to cash in on 4/1 odds of winning the AFC North, something one more win would have secured.
  • The Bengals did however upset oddsmakers when it came to securing a playoff spot. Preseason odds had the Bengals at 2/1 to make the postseason, as opposed to 5/13 not to. Bettors taking the longer odds were ultimately rewarded.
  • Preseason predictions had the Bengals winning eight games this season. An impressive stretch late in the season saw that number go over, rewarding those that had taken the longer 11/10 odds.

Going Forward

Before the season kicked off, Cincinnati was eighth in the conference with 18/1 odds of winning the AFC and heading to the Super Bowl. Those odds are now 22/1, fifth in the conference.

The Bengals’ Super Bowl odds stood at 45/1 – 18th in the league – ahead of the season. Those odds now stand at 45/1, tied with Indianapolis for the longest of those teams entering postseason play.

Cincinnati (10-6, 6-2 road) travels to AFC South champions Houston (12-4, 6-2 home) on Saturday (4:30 PM ET) for the weekend’s first Wild Card fixture. The Bengals have opened as underdogs with a 4.5-point spread. The total is 43.


Injuries - including that incurred by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger - sidelined many of the Pittsburgh Steelers, derailing the team's playoff hopes in the process.

In a season in which the Steelers were expected to contend for the AFC Championship and even Super Bowl XLVII, Pittsburgh found itself in unfamiliar waters.

Few knew what to make of an opening weekend loss to Denver – who, as it turned out, would finish with the joint best record in the league – but early losses to Oakland and Tennessee and a 2-3 record had fans and bettors worried.

With a seemingly endless list of injuries, the Steelers limped through the season, managing to pick-up four straight wins to improve to 6-3. Before the Steel City could rejoice however, the wheels fell off the bus and the Steelers dropped five of their last seven games, missing out on the playoffs for only the third time in Ben Roethlisberger’s nine years with the team.

What Paid Out

  • The Steelers’ woes meant the team failed to live up to expectations as favorites (11/10) to win the division.
  • Oddsmakers expected the Steelers to be playoff-bound this season (5/9), but bettors taking odds of 3/2 that Pittsburgh would not play in January were the ones smiling come the end of Week 16.
  • Pittsburgh was expected to win 10 games this season. Bettors taking the over (10/13) ended up disappointed, while those taking the under (1/1) at least had something to be happy for.


Nothing was expected of the Cleveland Browns this year. The side started the season with 200/1 odds of winning the Super Bowl, tied for last place with Jacksonville. Only the Jaguars had longer odds of winning the conference, and the Browns were expected to finish last in the AFC North. The Browns lived up to those expectations.

For those that didn’t follow the AFC North closely, Cleveland was one of the league’s laughing stocks, but in reality, the Browns had a good, solid season, relatively speaking. The side won five games, a one-game improvement on last season and the fifth straight year with five wins or less.

However, if you take out the final three weeks of the season – when the side was all but done and dusted – the Browns held a 5-8 record. Of those eight losses, five were decided by a touchdown or less. An extra score here or there and the Browns could have finished with a respectable record. That’s something for the team to take with it going forward

What Paid Out

  • Unsurprisingly, Cleveland’s long odds (20/1) of winning the AFC North fell by the wayside.
  • Bettors taking the Browns to miss the playoffs (1/20) made a miserly profit while those that took the side to make the postseason (10/1) should ask themselves what they were thinking.
  • Bookies had the Browns to win five games, and that’s exactly what they achieved. Those taking the over (20/21) and under (4/5) will be disappointed with the push.
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