2022 AFC North Division Predictions: Ravens vs. Bengals

The AFC North: A Battle for Supremacy

The Cincinnati Bengals had a remarkable run in the playoffs last season, culminating in a trip to Super Bowl 56. However, in the upcoming 2022 season, they find themselves as the second favorite to defend their AFC North title, with +190 odds. The Baltimore Ravens, on the other hand, hold the top spot with +160 odds. The AFC North has gained a reputation for its smashmouth football, making it one of the toughest divisions in the NFL.

Bengals and Ravens: The Favorites

Since 2008, four division winners from the AFC North have gone on to compete in the Super Bowl, with the Bengals being the latest addition. Both the Bengals and Ravens have similar odds to win Super Bowl 57, sitting at +2200. They are also tied for fifth on the futures board with +1000 odds to win the AFC Championship. The competitive nature of these teams sets the stage for an exciting rivalry within the division.

The Ravens: Overcoming Challenges

The Ravens have experienced success in previous seasons, clinching the AFC North title in consecutive years in 2018 and 2019. However, a string of injuries to their backfield and secondary hindered their performance last season, resulting in an 8-9 record. For the upcoming season, the Ravens face a tough schedule with nine road games, including matchups against formidable non-division opponents such as the New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and New Orleans Saints. Their home games against the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills in September also pose challenges. With such a demanding schedule, the Ravens may face a tough start to the season, potentially impacting their overall performance.

Despite these hurdles, the Ravens remain popular picks to win the AFC North, considering their strong track record and the perception that the Bengals may regress after their successful previous season.

Bengals: Dealing with High Expectations

The Cincinnati Bengals surprised many by winning the AFC North last season, propelled by a soft schedule and a stroke of luck in the playoffs. However, their postseason success now comes with its set of challenges, primarily in the form of a difficult schedule for the upcoming season. The Bengals could face a tough start, potentially going 2-6 in their initial games. Following their bye week, they will face six formidable opponents, including four away games against the Steelers, Titans, Buccaneers, and Patriots, with home games against the Chiefs and Browns in December. The Kansas City Chiefs, in particular, will look to avenge their previous defeat against the Bengals in Week 13.

The bookies have set the Bengals’ win total at 10, leaving room for potential losses, particularly due to the challenging schedule. While the public may have high expectations for the Bengals based on their previous success, caution is advised when considering future wagers.

The Browns: Dealing with Uncertainty

The Cleveland Browns enter the upcoming season as a major question mark, primarily due to uncertainty surrounding the potential absence of Deshaun Watson. Watson’s involvement in sexual misconduct lawsuits raises concerns regarding potential disciplinary measures from the NFL. Although he settled the lawsuits out of court, there is speculation that he could face suspension ranging from six to eight games, or potentially an entire season.

The current odds factor in the assumption of Watson missing at least six games. Given that Watson effectively sat out the previous season to force a trade, the Browns may have to wait until midseason for his return, causing further uncertainty surrounding his performance after a significant 1.5-year layoff. There have been rumors of the Browns seeking insurance through a trade for Jimmy G from the San Francisco 49ers, given their available cap space. However, the uncertainty surrounding Watson’s situation makes it difficult to make confident future bets on the Browns’ success in the AFC North.

Steelers: Transition Season Ahead

The Pittsburgh Steelers face a challenging transition season following the retirement of longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Without a clear successor at the quarterback position, with Mason Rudolph and Mitch Trubisky as backup options, the Steelers find themselves in a bind. The recent acquisition of Kenny Pickett through the draft adds some intrigue, although it remains to be seen how involved he will be in the offense and whether he will be thrown into the spotlight immediately.

Despite uncertainties at the quarterback position, the Steelers possess standout wide receivers in Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Furthermore, rookie Najee Harris showcased his potential in the previous season with impressive statistics. However, with the lowest win total in the division, set at 7.0, the Steelers face an uphill battle in winning the AFC North, currently sitting at +1000 odds.

Conclusion

The AFC North presents a competitive landscape, filled with teams striving for divisional supremacy. The Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens emerge as the favorites, with the Bengals looking to defend their title against the Ravens’ fierce determination. However, both teams must navigate through challenging schedules that could shape their seasons significantly. The Cleveland Browns face uncertainty surrounding the potential absence of Deshaun Watson, making it difficult to gauge their potential success. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in a transition season, grappling with the departure of Ben Roethlisberger. As the season unfolds, football fans eagerly anticipate the battles within the AFC North.

FAQs

1. Can the Bengals replicate their success from last season?

While the Bengals had an impressive run last season, their upcoming schedule poses a significant challenge. They will face tough opponents, particularly during the post-bye portion of their season. Replicating their success will require them to overcome formidable adversaries.

2. Who is the biggest threat to the Ravens’ AFC North reign?

The Cincinnati Bengals emerged as a strong contender within the AFC North, winning the division last season. With their recent success, they pose a significant threat to the Ravens’ reign, showcasing the competitive nature of the division.

3. Will Deshaun Watson’s potential absence impact the Browns’ season?

Deshaun Watson’s uncertain status casts a shadow of doubt over the Browns’ season. Depending on the disciplinary measures imposed by the NFL, the Browns may have to navigate a significant portion of their season without their anticipated star quarterback.

4. Can the Steelers find success in their transition season?

With the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers face a transition season. While they possess talented wide receivers and promising rookie Najee Harris, uncertainties at the quarterback position may hinder their chances of success in the highly competitive AFC North.

5. What makes the AFC North the toughest division in football?

The AFC North is notorious for its physical style of play, often referred to as smashmouth football. The rivalries within the division intensify the level of competition, with teams battling fiercely to establish dominance. The division has a history of producing strong teams that go on to contend for the Super Bowl.

Picture of Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, cons the all tetur adiscing elit