The true NFL offseason is officially upon us. Mandatory minicamp has come to a close and players from all 32 teams have gone their separate ways. Most players will get some vacation time in while continuing to work out in preparation for the return to training camp in late July. Once training camp arrives, the road to Super Bowl 54 begins in earnest.
Each year, sports bettors are able to wager on where they think each team will finish up in the win column. Sportsbooks release a number for a team’s win total and you can bet over or under that number. If you land on the number, it’s a push, or tie.
Below are win totals for the four teams in the AFC North. The number in parenthesis is the juice on the over and the under. For example, if you bet the over on nine wins for the Browns, the payout is -130 (you bet $130 to win $100). If you bet the under, the payout is +110 (you bet $100 to win $110). That means the over is the favorite.
Sportsbooks are not predicting each team will win the number of games on the win total. Rather, they are setting a number so that they can get a similar amount of money on both sides of the wager. They do not want an extensive liability on one side or the other since then they would be relying on a specific outcome. With even money on both sides of a wager, the house will profit more often than not.
Now that roster overhauls are mostly complete and teams have finished up spring workouts, we took a few minutes to chat with site managers from each SB Nation team blog. They offered reasons why their team could end up over the win total and why their team could end up under the win total. The sites pay close attention to their teams and have more insight than your average national reporter.
Cleveland Browns: 9 (-130, +110) — Dawgs By Nature
Why over: The Browns had as strong an offseason as anybody, loading up additional talent on both sides of the ball. Baker Mayfield had a phenomenal rookie season, and if he builds on it, this team is a playoff contender. They are currently division favorites and have the ninth best Super Bowl odds. If Greg Robinson improves at left tackle and the offensive line holds up over the course of the season, this team is sufficiently stacked on both sides of the ball to get into double digits wins.
Why under: Expectations are high and the team has added a lot of talent, but they will still be counting on Baker Mayfield to build off a great rookie season. If Mayfield has a sophomore slump, the Browns might not be able to reach expectations. This is a team with a new head coach, questions on the offensive line, and a difficult schedule. They can overcome it, but finishing at or below nine wins is still a real possibility until the Browns prove otherwise.
Pittsburgh Steelers: 9 (-125, +105) — Behind The Steel Curtain
Why over: Despite a mediocre season which saw them miss the playoffs in 2018, and the departure of Antonio Brown, this team still has a very strong core of players returning for 2019. Ben Roethlisberger leads the charge on offense, and James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster are coming off Pro Bowl seasons. Defensively, the addition of Devin Bush and Mark Barron should help lift the defense which already gets to the QB as well as anyone else in the league, to new heights. If they can spread out the touchdowns Brown pulled in last year, they will be just fine.
Why under: Speaking of those touchdowns Brown pulled in, there were 15 of them. Sure, they signed rookie Diontae Johnson, and free agent Donte Moncrief, but is that good enough? While the defense should be better next season, the offense, and their inability to score regularly, could be the reason the team underachieves when it comes to the over/under total for this upcoming 2019 regular season.
Baltimore Ravens: 8.5 (+105, -125) — Baltimore Beatdown
Why over: Greg Roman builds a strong scheme, utilizing sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson’s running and passing ability. Jackson takes the next step in fixing his mechanics and accuracy, which in turn provides more scoring opportunities for the Ravens’ offense. The 2019 draft class of WR Marquise Brown, WR Miles Boykin and RB Justice Hill instantly contribute and perform well. Meanwhile, the Ravens defense avoids a drastic plummet from their free agent losses earlier in the year with the addition of Earl Thomas III and the already dominant secondary. At least one of the junior pass rushers develop to pair opposite of Matt Judon, or rookie Jaylon Ferguson comes out of the gate ready to play. Health, as always, is a factor, and the Ravens avoid critical losses in the trenches on both sides of the line.
Why under: The offensive scheme is still built towards Jackson and the running back unit carrying the rock over 30 times a game, while failing to open up the passing attack. Jackson’s accuracy inconsistencies continue and the rookie class can’t establish chemistry with the man under center. The offensive line doesn’t develop further, which leaves the most of the interior offensive line as a liability. On defense, the pass rush losses of Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith can’t be replaced by Tim Williams, Tyus Bowser and rookie Jaylon Ferguson. The inside linebacker unit doesn’t step into the role left behind by C.J. Mosley and offenses strike early and often with tight ends across the middle of the field. Injuries hamper either side of the ball for long periods of time, which result in late-game breakdowns and losses.
Cincinnati Bengals: 6 (-120, Even) — Cincy Jungle
Why over: The Bengals would have easily won 8+ games last season if not for the injuries to A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. They were 5-3 before Green’s toe became an issue, and they wound up finishing 1-7 down the stretch. The roster got slightly better this offseason through free agency and the draft, not to mention Zac Taylor will breathe new life into this franchise. As long as the Bengals’ heavy-hitters stay healthy, they’ll get to seven wins and will be a dark horse playoff contender. Don’t sleep on defenders Sam Hubbard and Jessie Bates having huge sophomore seasons that make this defense a formidable unit.
Why under: As much as Marvin Lewis needed to be fired, he did take this franchise to seven playoff trips, and several of those teams were undermanned units that Lewis got the most out of. Zac Taylor may be a better offensive mind, but he’s still got a weak defense that may actually look worse under first-year coordinator Lou Anarumo compared to what it was when Lewis was running the defense. The linebacker unit is still arguably the worst of any NFL team. The offensive line is also still a major question mark that could easily cripple the offense and turn this into a bottom-five team that struggles to just win five games, let alone the seven needed to beat the over/under. Another thing to consider is Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap are in their age 30+ seasons and should see a decline in their play, which could turn this defense into the NFL’s worst.
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Odds and lines subject to change. See website for actual odds.
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