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AFC North: Week 1 Preview

Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Over the years the AFC North has consistently proven to be one of the toughest divisions in football, not only in terms of the on-field action but also when it comes to picking a winner.

It should come as no surprise then to learn that bookmakers aren’t exactly going all out and picking a winner this year. Bar the perennial cellar dwelling Cleveland Browns, every team in the division has a legitimate shot at winning the AFC North title, which should make for an interesting year.

Things get started on Sunday with a pair of intra-division games, which Betting Sports previews below.

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD (1:00 p.m. ET)

Last year’s AFC North winning Cincinnati Bengals (0-0, 0-0 road) begin the campaign as a narrow favorite to win the AFC North, although the degree to which the team is favored is hanging by a thread. Marvin Lewis’ side will get a stiff test to open the season with this trip to Baltimore.

The Baltimore Ravens (0-0, 0-0 home) disappointed in the follow up to their Super Bowl XLVII winning campaign, beginning the year 4-6 before finishing a more respectable 8-8. John Harbaugh will urge his team to have a better season this year, beginning with this home opener.

The two sides split a pair last season, and have each gone 5-5 in their last 10 head-to-head matchups. The Bengals have been defeated in each of their last four, and five of their last six, trips to Baltimore.

The Ravens are a marginal favorite heading into this one, with the spread sitting at 1.5 with most sportsbooks.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens odds for 09/07/2014


Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA (1:00 p.m. ET)

After beginning the 2013 season 0-4, the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0, 0-0 home) rolled off eight wins in 12 games and unthinkably came within a whisker of advancing to the postseason. After successive 8-8 season, head coach Mike Tomlin will look to mold his team into the 10-plus win team it has been so often. A home game against the Browns looks like a good place to start.

With the drafting of Johnny Manziel, Cleveland (0-0, 0-0 road) ensured it would garner some column inches this summer. What it didn’t do was show any true signs that improvement was on the agenda. In fairness, the Browns – owners of a losing record in 13 of the 15 seasons since 1999’s reboot – did show improvement on the field a season ago, but you wouldn’t tell that from the side’s 4-12 record.

Since 1999, the Browns are 5-26 against the Steelers, including a 2-14 record in Pittsburgh. The team’s last road win in the series came on October 5, 2003, which makes it all but impossible for bettors to back them in this one.

The Steelers have emerged as a one-touchdown favorite on the betting lines.

Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers odds for 09/07/2014


Next Week

Pittsburgh at Baltimore (Thursday)

Atlanta at Cincinnati


For an up-to-date list of Week 1 NFL odds, click here.

For a full list of NFL Futures, click here.

For NFL team prop bets, click here.

For NFL player prop bets, click here.

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