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AFC North Preview

   by ASA - 08/25/2017

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens – 2016 record (8-8) – 2nd in the AFC North

· Off YPG – 347.7 (17th) – Def YPG – 322.1 (7th)

· Points scored 21.4 (21st) – Points allowed 20.1 (9th)

2017 Total Win Analysis

2017 ASA prediction – Play OVER 9 Wins for the Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore has been one of the more consistent franchises in the NFL winning at least 8 games in 8 of the last 9 seasons. Last year they finished 8-8 and we expect a jump to at least 9 wins this year. This is a team that outgained their opponents by 26 YPG last year and outscored their opponents on the season. They only lost two games all season long by more than 7 points. Five of their eight losses came at the hands of playoff teams and in three of their losses they led with 2:15 or less remaining in the game. This team could have easily topped 8 wins last season. The schedule sets up for them to get off to a fast start as 3 of their first 6 games come against Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Chicago, none of whom topped 3 wins last season. The Birds also close out the season with 4 of their final 6 games at home and one of those two roadies comes @ Cleveland which is a probable win. Baltimore has one of the more stable coaching staffs in the NFL and head man John Harbaugh has proven his worth with an impressive 85-59 NFL regular season record. We think 9-7 at worst for this team which would get us a push at worst as well.

Against The Spread – 7-9 ATS record / 7 Overs, 8 Unders, 1 Push

· Ravens were just 4-8-1 ATS as a HF last 2 seasons. However, leading into the 2015 season they were 60-38-3 ATS as a HF since 2000 (62%)

· Ravens vs Steelers – 11 of the last 18 meetings between these two AFC North rivals were decided by 3 or less

· Ravens vs Steelers – Despite two defensive minded teams, the over is 21-13-1 the last 35 meetings

· Ravens vs Browns – These two rivals have gone UNDER the total in 11 of their last 16 meetings. Only 4 times in their last 16 meetings have these two topped 42 points

Pittsburgh Steelers – 2016 record (11-5) – 1st in AFC North

· Off YPG – 372.6 (7th) – Def YPG – 342.6 (12th)

· Points scored 24.9 (11th) – Points allowed 20.4 (10th)

2017 Total Win Analysis

2017 ASA prediction – Play OVER 10.5 Wins for the Pittsburgh Steelers

This one was a tough call as we think this number of 10.5 is set exactly where it should be. However we have to lean OVER here and we expect the Steelers to get to 11 wins again in 2017. They finished 11-5 last year and that was with Roethlisberger sitting out 2 games due to injury. Big Ben’s health is obviously a key to this selection. He needs to stay on the field and with his age and the beating he takes, that is not guaranteed. His weapons on offense are 2nd to none with RB Bell & WR Brown causing problems for defenses. They have finished in the top 7 in total offense each of the last 3 years and another high finish is expected this season. The schedule on the front end and back end is favorable. The Steelers begin the season in Cleveland and don’t play a playoff team from last year until week 6. They should be favored in 11 of their first 12 games and if the season plays out as we think, this team will most likely be an underdog only twice all season (vs New England and @ KC). There are a few other games that could go either way spread wise (@ Baltimore, @ Cincinnati, and @ Houston) although worst case scenario would have them a small underdog in those. They close the season with 5 of their last 7 games at home and their overall schedule ranks as the 5th easiest in the NFL with their opponents winning just 45% of their games last season.

Against The Spread - 9-6-1 ATS record / 6 Overs, 10 Unders

· Ravens vs Steelers – 11 of the last 18 meetings between these two AFC North rivals were decided by 3 or less

· Since 2003, Pittsburgh has the 4th best ATS home record in the NFL (66-52-3) covering 56% of the time.

· Since 2003, the Steelers are 9-3-2 (75%) as a home underdog – best mark in the NFL.

· Going back to 2010, Pittsburgh is 25-15 ATS (62.5%) the game following a SU loss.

· Steelers have dominated AFC North rival Cincinnati. Pitt is 40-14 SU the last 52 meetings and 36-18 ATS.

Cincinnati Bengals – 2016 record (6-9-1) – 3rd in the AFC North

· Off YPG – 356.9 (13th) – Def YPG – 350.8 (17th)

· Points scored 20.3 (24th) – Points allowed 19.7 PPG (8th)

2017 Total Win Analysis

2017 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 8.5 Wins for the Cincinnati Bengals

We’re not big fans of QB Andy Dalton and with him under center, we simply think the Bengals will underachieve. They will most likely improve a bit on last year’s 6-9-1 mark but we don’t see this team getting to 9 wins. Their defense was solid, but offensively with Dalton running the show, they simply aren’t very good. He will be operating behind an offensive line that lost arguably their 2 best players in the off-season with Whitworth going to the Rams and Zeitler to the Browns. The defense was solid for the most part but if the offense scores only 20 PPG again this year, this team won’t get to 9 wins. They start fairly tough with 3 of their first 6 opponents making the playoffs last year + Baltimore who was close. They have a brutal stretch coming out of their bye in late October playing 4 of 5 on the road including 3 consecutive roadies on November 5th @ Jacksonville, November 12th @ Tennessee, and November 19th @ Denver. They do close with a much more manageable schedule but at that point they might have a tough time battling back above .500. The Cats did lose a home game last year when they traveled to London but even back to a regular schedule in 2017, we feel this team is destined for an 8-8 season.

Against The Spread – 7-9 ATS record / 6 Overs, 10 Unders

· The Bengals have been terrible against the division rival Steelers winning just 14 of the last 54 meetings. Cincy has also covered only 18 of the last 54 vs Pittsburgh.

· Since 2004, the Bengals are just 29-38-4 ATS (43%) as home favorites – 10th worst in the NFL.

· Since 2005, Cincy is a terrible 0-7 (1-6 ATS) in the playoffs losing by an average score of 25-12.

· If you can find the Bengals as a home underdog they have gone a money making 19-8 the last 27 times in that position.

· Cincinnati has cashed in at a 67% clip vs division opponent Baltimore going 16-8-1 ATS – dating back to 2004.

Cleveland Browns – 2016 record (1-15) – 4th in the AFC North

· Off YPG – 311 (30th) – Def YPG – 392.4 (31st)

· Points scored 16.5 (31st) – Points allowed 28.2 (30th)

2017 Total Win Analysis

2017 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 4.5 Wins for the Cleveland Browns

Have the Browns improved enough to jump a full 4 wins in 2017? Not in our opinion. This team had only 1 win last year and we don’t see them getting to 5 wins this season. This franchise has THE WORST record in the NFL since 2010 with 29 wins & 83 losses. That’s an average of just 4 wins per season. There is a solid chance they will be underdogs in every game this season. They do have a chance to be small favorites at home vs Jacksonville or the NY Jets but that’s it. They were not favored in any game last year and have been a favorite only 62 times total since the start of the 2001 season. Will they improve on 16 PPG with Osweiler at QB? Possibly not. He is one of the most inaccurate passers in the NFL with 22 interceptions in his 23 games played the last 2 seasons. If not it might be rookie Kizer and we don’t expect much offensively if that is the case. The Cleveland defense was actually pretty good two years ago before getting worn down later in the year. Last season they were flat out bad finishing 30th in YPG allowed & 31st in PPG allowed. They allowed 27 or more points in 12 of their 16 games last season! Unless their defense improves drastically, this offense won’t be able to keep up. Look for another 2 or 3 win season at best from the Browns.

Against The Spread – 3-12-1 ATS record / 8 Overs, 8 Unders

· Browns are 9-19-2 ATS (32%) as a home favorite since 2008, the worst mark in the NFL.

· Since the start of the 2011 season, Cleveland has gone UNDER the total in 55 of their 96 games – that’s a 57% UNDER mark of the last 6 seasons.

· The Browns have gone UNDER the total in 23 of their last 34 AFC North contests.

· Cleveland has been absolutely dominated by division rival Pittsburgh. The Steelers have won 30 of the last 34 meetings (Pitt is 20-13-1 ATS in those meetings).

· Since the start of the 2008 season, the Browns are just 10-44 SU (22-30-2 ATS) vs the AFC North.

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