The NFL announced their official schedules last week, and now that we get to see exactly which teams are playing each other and when, we can start to handicap the over/under win totals for each team. Making futures bets early in the season gives you a great opportunity to open up long term value, and can allow you to find some really profitable hedges and middles late in the season.
In this article, we are going to breakdown each team in the AFC North Division and tell you whether you should bet the OVER or the UNDER on their 2020 NFL win totals. Let’s get started!
- 2019 Record (14-2)
- 2020 Win Total (11.5)
- Odds to win division (-200)
The 2019 regular season was owned by Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens led the NFL in regular season wins with fourteen, and Jackson took home the league MVP Award. The Ravens saw their playoff run ended early when they ran into the buzz saw that was Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans, in the divisional round, for a premature postseason exit. The question on all Raven’s fans minds as we head into 2020, is can the Ravens do it again?
"This time, there's only one question. Can he do it again?"
(Spoiler alert, yes.)
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) May 19, 2020
The Ravens will again look to have a strong defense and a power running game. Baltimore rushed for nearly a thousand more yards than any other team last year, with both Jackson and running back Mark Ingram going over a thousand yards, and change of pace back, Gus Edwards, chipping in 711 yards on a 5.3 yards per rush average.
The draft was really kind to Baltimore as they picked up running back J.K. Dobbins from Ohio State, a guy that rushed for over two thousand yards last season and could supplant Ingram as the go-to back in Baltimore, either this year, or next.
They also addressed their needs at receiver by snatching up speedster Devin Duvernay from Texas to play in the slot and James Proche from SMU, a guy that led all of college football in receptions in the last two seasons combined.
The Ravens look to be at least as good as last year, and possibly better. But last year they surprised a lot of people as they came out of nowhere to win fourteen games. They aren’t going to sneak up on anybody this year, and they have a huge target on their back in what should be a much-improved AFC North in 2020.
To go over, the Ravens need to win at least twelve games. That means they can only have four losses at the most if they are to go over the total. When I look at their schedule, I see several potential losses.
- Week 2: at Houston
- Week 3: Kansas City
- Week 6: at Philadelphia
- Week 10: at New England
- Week 11: Tennessee
- Week 12: at Pittsburgh
- Week 13: Dallas
Assuming the Ravens win all of their other games, they need to win three of these seven games to go over the total. Winning in New England against Bill Belichick is always tough, but without Brady at the helm, I think Lamar and company find a way to win in Foxboro. I also see the Ravens taking care of business against Dallas at home.
Games I see them potentially losing are at home to Kansas City in week three, at Pittsburgh against a Steelers team that should be much better with Big Ben back on the field in week twelve, and at home against a Tennessee team that had their number last year in the playoffs in week eleven.
That leaves us with just the week six trip to Philly to decide the season. While winning on the road against the Eagles is never an easy task, I see Baltimore taking care of business in the city of Brotherly Love, putting them at a 13-3 final record, and going over the total of 11.5.
- 2019 Record (8-8)
- 2020 Win Total (9.5)
- Odds to win division (+375)
The Pittsburgh Steelers looked lost for much of the year without their long-time leader, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, on the field. Big Ben went down with an injury in week two. Without Roethlisberger under center, the Steelers finished in 31st place in passing yards per game, ahead of only the Washington Redskins.
But, even with an anemic offense, the Steelers managed to go 8-8 on the season and had a real shot at the playoffs before losing the final three games of the regular season. They stayed competitive by having a great defense, particularly against the pass, where they allowed just 194 yards per game through the air.
— BigBen7.com (@_BigBen7) May 18, 2020
The big difference maker from last year to this year is getting Big Ben back to leading the team. They also added tight end Eric Ebron to give Roethlisberger another red-zone threat to go with incumbent tight end Vance McDonald.
James Connor was banged up most of the year and is hoping to get back to his 2018 form, that had him as one of the most versatile running backs in the league, racking up nearly 1,500 all-purpose yards and thirteen scores.
If you ever had any doubt as to Mike Tomlin’s ability to coach football, that was erased last season. Tomlin continued his streak of never having a losing season in Pittsburgh, and he did it with a bunch of bums on offense. He gets his best guys back this year, and many expect Pittsburgh to compete with Baltimore at the top of the division, and they could very easily end up making the playoffs and playing in the wild card round.
But when you break down the Steelers season game by game, it feels like the 9.5 win total might be a little bit high. Here are games that I see as potential losses for Pittsburgh in 2020.
- Week 3: Houston
- Week 4: at Tennessee
- Week 5: Philadelphia
- Week 7: at Baltimore
- Week 9: at Dallas
- Week 12: Baltimore
- Week 14: at Buffalo
- Week 17: at Cleveland
That is eight potential losses for Pittsburgh. Road games at Tennessee, Baltimore, and Buffalo all seem to be solidly in the loss column, and I see them losing at Cleveland and Dallas as well. That leaves us with home against Houston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore with them needing to win all three to go over.
I just don’t see it happening. The Steelers are going to be decent, but even if they do beat Baltimore at home, a game I think they can win, Houston and Philadelphia are both going to be good this year. They split those games at best, and finish the season at 9-7, just slightly going under the total.
- 2019 Record (6-10)
- 2020 Win Total (8)
- Odds to win division (+450)
After being the talk of the league heading into 2019 with additions of Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr, and Jarvis Landry, the Cleveland Browns did what they typically have done as a franchise, and that is fall flat on their faces. They finished a very disappointing 6-10, and as they look forward to 2020, it is hard to tell what to expect from a flawed, yet talented, Browns team.
The Browns did the right thing in the offseason as their biggest add came on the offensive line when they signed tackle Jack Conklin to a $42 million deal. He should greatly improve what was already a solid front line, and give even more rushing lanes for Nick Chubb, who very quietly rushed for 1,494 yards last year.
Welcome home Jack! pic.twitter.com/3dTKHEBlPR
— Tanner Antill (@TLAartwork) March 18, 2020
The Browns also brought back speed demon Kareem Hunt, who was used mostly to spell Chubb last year, and in the passing game. Getting him more involved with the offense is going to be a major key to success for the Browns offense.
The addition of tight end Austin Hooper gives the Browns a playmaker at every offensive skill position, and while they overpaid for him, he could help take a lot of pressure off Landry and Beckham on the outside and should be a viable red-zone target.
The Browns will benefit from one of the easier schedules in the league in 2020 but may still struggle to go over the eight-win total. Cleveland has very winnable games on the schedule against Cincinnati (twice), Washington, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, the Jets, and the Giants. Games I see as potential losses are below.
- Week 1: at Baltimore
- Week 4: at Dallas
- Week 6: at Pittsburgh
- Week 8: Las Vegas
- Week 11: Philadelphia
- Week 13: at Tennessee
- Week 14: Baltimore
- Week 17: Pittsburgh
I think that the Browns rebound this year and have some success. Last year they got caught up in all of their own hype, and this year, now that the spotlight is turned off, I think they break through and get into playoff contention.
A big part of that is the weak schedule. They only have to win one of the above games to go 9-7 and go over their posted total. This team wasn’t great on the road last year, even though they did somehow blow out the Ravens on the road early in the season, so I don’t see them breaking through for a lot of road success this year.
But road games against the Bengals, Jaguars, Giants, and Jets are all games they should win. One win against the likes of Las Vegas, Philly, or Pittsburgh at home, gets them to 9-7, and that is where I think they end up, going over the total by a game.
- 2019 Record (2-14)
- 2020 Win Total (5.5)
- Odds to win division (+2200)
There is nowhere to go but up for the Bengals in 2020. They tanked in 2019, and it earned them the number one overall draft pick, which they used on LSU QB Joe Burrow. Burrow seems to be a franchise changer, but that doesn’t mean that the Bengals are going to have success right away.
Cincinnati will welcome back AJ Green, after seeing him miss all of 2019 with an injury. Green was trying to force his way out of Cincinnati last year, but now with Burrow running the show, it looks like he is ready to give it another shot with the Bengals.
The Cincinnati #Bengals plan to use franchise tag on receiver A.J. Green.
Last year he sat out the entire season. It seemed like he wanted out of Cinci.
Are they making the right move here? pic.twitter.com/RoJ0DBBPbd
— Elvin Ryan (@ElvinRyan_FF) March 1, 2020
Other playmakers returning are Joe Mixon, who had 1,137 rushing yards last year, and Tyler Boyd, who is going to be a matchup nightmare as the number two guy with Green on the other side of the field to attract all of the pressure. The offense should be exciting, but this team isn’t quite ready for the playoffs.
The Bengals are one of the biggest question marks in the league right now. Will Joe Burrow be able to recreate all the success he had last year in college when he shattered the record books? With a guy like AJ Green catching passes from him, he could be very good, right away.
The defense wasn’t all that bad last year as they finished near the middle of the pack in yards allowed per game, despite giving up the most rushing yards per game in the league. They brought in defensive lineman DJ Reader on a four-year $53 million deal to anchor their defensive line, and he should help plug their porous run defense. They also brought in cornerback Trae Waynes to help bolster the secondary.
With a bar set so low, at just five and a half games, it is less about potential losses, like the rest of the division, and more about potential wins. Below are games that I see the Bengals competing to win in 2020.
- Week 1: Chargers
- Week 4: Jacksonville
- Week 6: at Indianapolis
- Week 7: Cleveland
- Week 11: at Washington
- Week 12: New York Giants
- Week 13: at Miami
Even with the light schedule, I only see seven potential wins here for the Bengals. Home games against Jacksonville and New York seem like wins. I think they find a way to split against the Chargers and Browns, at best. That means they need to win on the road against Indy, Washington, and Miami to go over. Washington could be a W, but I just don’t see them winning at an improved Miami team, or at Indy. The Bengals finish 4-12 and go under the total.
With the official schedules coming out, we are already starting to see a lot of movement in these lines. The sharps do all of their betting early, leaving tough lines for the casual bettors. Make sure that you bet when the sharps do, and get your action in early, to get the best number available. Thanks for reading and be on the lookout for the rest of my divisional breakdowns, coming later in the week, and stay tuned to The Sports Geek all season long for all of your 2020 NFL betting advice!