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AFC North Preview

   by ASA - 07/28/2018



AFC North

Baltimore Ravens – 2017 record (9-7) – ATS Record (8-7-1) - Over/Under Record (9-7)
· Yards Per Game Differential -20 / Yards Per Play Differential -0.4
· Point Differential +92 (4th in the AFC / 8th in the NFL)
· Turnover Differential +17 (1st in the NFL)

2018 ASA prediction – Play OVER 8.5 Wins for the Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore has been one of the more consistent franchises in the NFL winning at least 8 games in 9 of the last 10 seasons. Last season they finished with the 4th best point differential in the AFC but missed the playoffs. Their defense allowed only 303 points during the regular season which was topped by only New England, LA Chargers, and Jacksonville in the AFC. The Ravens won 9 games last season but it could have been better. They were in every game but one with their only loss by more than a TD coming at the hands of the AFC West Champion Chiefs. QB Joe Flacco and the offense struggled early in the season but averaged nearly 30 PPG over their final 8 games which was 2nd in the NFL during that time period (Rams were 1st). Baltimore has one of the more stable coaching staffs in the NFL and head man John Harbaugh has proven his worth with an impressive 94-66 NFL regular season record and getting to 9 or more wins again this year is definitely doable.

Against The Spread Numbers
· Ravens vs Steelers – 12 of the last 20 meetings between these two AFC North rivals were decided by 3 or less
· Ravens vs Steelers – Despite two defensive minded teams, the over is 22-14-1 the last 37 meetings
· Ravens vs Browns – These two rivals have gone UNDER the total in 13 of their last 18 meetings. Only 4 times in their last 18 meetings have these two topped 42 points




Pittsburgh Steelers – 2017 record (13-3) – ATS Record (7-9) – Over/Under Record (6-10)
· Yards Per Game Differential +77 / Yards Per Play Differential +0.5
· Point Differential +98 (3rd in the AFC / 7th in the NFL)
· Turnover Differential +2 (14th in the NFL)

2018 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 10.5 Wins for the Pittsburgh Steelers

We took the Steelers Over 10.5 last season but this year we’re leaning Under. This team is getting older at key positions, especially QB where Roethlisberger is entering his 15th season. He’s now missed 7 games over the last 3 seasons due to injury and the physical pounding is taking its toll. We’d be shocked if he lines up under center for every game this year. His top WR Antonio Brown tore his calf muscle late in the season and RB Bell is still complaining about his contract. The offense will have to continue to be top notch as we expect a drop from this defense. After losing their top LB Shazier to a career ending back injury Pittsburgh allowed 38, 27, 6, 24, and 45 points in their final 5 games. Their lone solid effort was vs Houston (6 points) whose offense was putrid late in the season (held under 17 points in 8 of their final 9 games). We don’t think Mike Tomlin is a great head coach and Pittsburgh’s schedule is a bit tougher this year as they get the AFC West (they travel to the west coast twice in a 3 week span in late November/early December) and NFC South.

Against The Spread Numbers
· Since 2004, the Steelers are 9-4-2 (69%) as a home underdog – best mark in the NFL.
· Going back to 2010, Pittsburgh is 28-15 ATS (65%) the game following a SU loss.
· Steelers have dominated AFC North rival Cincinnati. Pitt is 42-14 SU the last 56 meetings and 37-19 ATS.



Cincinnati Bengals – 2017 record (7-9) – ATS Record (9-7) – Over/Under Record (7-9)
· Yard Per Game Differential -59/ Yards Per Play Differential -0.2
· Point Differential -59 (9th in the AFC / 22nd in the NFL)
· Turnover Differential -9 (27th in the NFL)

2018 ASA prediction – Play OVER 7 Wins for the Cincinnati Bengals

Last year the oddsmakers set the Bengals win number at 8.5 and this year it’s a full 1.5 points lower. In fact, each of the last 5 years they have set Cincinnati’s win total at 8.5 or higher. We think the value is now on the over for Cincinnati. The defense was one of the best in the NFL allowing just 5 YPP which was 6th lowest in the league. They have been consistent on that side of the ball finishing in the top 11 in the NFL in YPP allowed in 6 of the last 7 seasons. Their offense was putrid last year finishing dead last in the NFL averaging just 280 YPG. We feel that was an aberration and expect the offense to look much better in 2018. The Bengals previous 4 years of YPG averages were as follows…357, 353, 342, and 372. Look at it this way, this team got to 7 wins last year with a horrible offense. Any improvement should put that at or above this number. The Bengals have won at least 7 games in 6 of the last 7 seasons and the one year which they did not they finished with a record of 6-9-1. We look for at least an 8-8 record this year from Cincinnati.

Against The Spread Numbers
· Since 2004, the Bengals are just 31-42-4 ATS (42%) as home favorites – 8th 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 are a money making 21-8 ATS the last 29 times in that position.



Cleveland Browns – 2016 record (0-16) – ATS Record (4-12) – Over/Under Record (7-9)
· Yards Per Game Differential -19 / Yards Per Play Differential -0.2
· Point Differential -176 (16th in the AFC / 32nd in the NFL)
· Turnover Differential -28 (Last in the NFL)

2018 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 5.5 Wins for the Cleveland Browns

The Browns weren’t nearly as bad as their 0-16 record a year ago. They were only outgained by an average of 19 YPG. The problem was they were -28 turnovers on the season which was a full 11 turnovers worse than the next team which was Denver. If you turn the ball over that much in the NFL you have no chance. So do we think this team will improve in 2018? Sure we do. However we can’t foresee them improving by a full 6 games to push this over so we like the under here. Tyrod Taylor will make a difference at QB and he has some weapons to work with as WR Gordon and Landry are very good. The offensive line lost LT Joe Thomas to retirement. He was one of the best of all time so that’s a huge blow. The defense was middle of the pack in yardage allowed but they were on the field too much leading to an average of 26 PPG allowed (2nd worst in the NFL). We project the Browns to be favored in just 2 games this year and they’ve only been a favorite a total of 5 times in the last 3 seasons! This team has a 1-31 record the last 2 seasons combined and since 2010 their record is just 29-99. Now they are supposed to get to 6 wins this year? We don’t think so. Under is the play.

Against The Spread Numbers
· Browns are 9-20-2 ATS (31%) as a home favorite since 2008, the worst mark in the NFL.
· The Browns have gone UNDER the total in 27 of their last 40 AFC North contests.
· Since the start of the 2008 season, the Browns are just 10-50 SU (24-34-2 ATS) vs the AFC North.

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