Doc’s Office: NFL 2018 – AFC North Team Totals

NFL 2018 AFC North Preview

 

The AFC North unfortunately, is quite easy to predict this year. The Steelers are the clear favorite to run away with the division title (-260 at time of writing). While the Browns and Ravens have some exciting years ahead of them with the addition of rookie QBs this year, I don’t see them offering the Steelers much in the way of competition in the division. The Bengals are an interesting team with great pieces in place, I’m just not sure they have the ability to get on the Steelers level this year.

Baltimore Ravens

Coaches:

Head Coach: John Harbaugh (11th year)

OC: Marty Mornhinweg (3rd year)

DC: Don Martingale (1st year from BAL LB)

Key Position Week 1 Starters (Projected):

QB: Joe Flacco

WR: Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, John Brown

RB1: Alex Collins

TE: Hayden Hurst (rookie)

Key Player Changes:

Drafted Hayden Hurst TE 25th overall and Lamar Jackson QB 32nd overall

Signed Michael Crabtree / Willie Snead / John Brown

Lost Mike Wallace / Jeremy Maclin

Strength of Schedule:

11th (tied with CIN, IND)

Schedule Break-down:

Favored in six games

In seven games the spread is +/- 3 points

They play five top 10 opponents and six bottom 10 opponents

Season win total:

Over 8 -140 / Under 8 +120

Doc’s Pick:

Under 8 +120 – While the new WR corps is intriguing it’s just not enough for me to get behind the Ravens winning nine or more games this year. They will stick with Flacco to their detriment in my opinion. Their schedule is slightly easier than most this year so that may be my downfall on this one but I just can’t lay -140 with the Ravens this year.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

Coaches:

Head Coach: Marvin Lewis (16th year)

OC: Bill Lazor (2nd year)

DC: Teryl Austin (1st year from DET DC)

Key Position Week 1 Starters (Projected):

QB: Andy Dalton

WR: AJ Green, Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd

RB1: Joe Mixon (Gio Bernard will have a role also)

TE: Tyler Eifert

Key Player Changes:

Drafted Billy Price C 21st overall

Signed Preston Brown LB, Chris Baker DT, Cordy Glenn LT

Strength of Schedule:

11th (tied with BAL, IND)

Schedule Break-down:

Favored in three games

In eight games the spread is +/- 3 points

They play five top 10 opponents and five bottom 10 opponents

Season win total:

Over 6.5 -150 / Under 6.5 +130

Doc’s Pick:

Over 6.5 -150 – Is Marvin Lewis the leader of the “I should have lost my job years ago” club? Perhaps. However, I think the team will win despite him. Mixon and Gio make a really solid committee in the backfield and Eifert (hope he stays healthy) and Green are comfortable targets for the steady Dalton. The defense kept all but two opponents below 30 points last year, which may not sound like much, but it means that the Bengals will be in the games which is all they’ll need to give them a chance to get to the seven win mark.

 

Cleveland Browns

Coaches:

Head Coach: Hue Jackson (3rd year)

OC: Todd Haley (1st year from PIT OC)

DC: Gregg Williams (2nd year)

Key Position Week 1 Starters (Projected):

QB: Tyrod Taylor

WR: Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Duke Johnson

RB1: Carlos Hyde

TE: David Njoku

Key Player Changes:

Drafted Baker Mayfield QB 1st overall; Denzel Ward CB 4th overall; Nich Chubb 35th overall

Signed Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor

Signed Carlos Hyde; lost Isaiah Crowell

Signed TJ Carrie CB, E.J. Gaines CB, Damarious Randall CB; Lost Joe Thomas (retired)

Strength of Schedule:

25th

Schedule Break-down:

Favored in two games (NYJ and CIN)

In eight games they are a dog of 5 points or worse

They play five top 10 opponents and four bottom 10 opponents

Season win total:

Over 5.5 -180 / Under 5.5 +150

Doc’s Pick:

Under 5.5 +150 – This under pick isn’t a slight against the Browns, in fact I think they will be a lot of fun to watch this year. There are new faces all over the field for the Browns this year and I’m not sure that translates into instant success. Drawing the NFC south for their non-conference schedule doesn’t do them any favors. Give it a year or two, let Baker learn and take over, let Chubb learn and take over and be the complements to Landry and Gordon and they might be a force instead of a joke.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Coaches:

Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (12th year)

OC: Randy Fichtner (1st year from PIT QB)

DC: Keith Butler (3rd year)

Key Position Week 1 Starters (Projected):

QB: Ben Roethlisberger

WR: Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington (rookie)

RB1: Leveon Bell

TE: Jesse James

Key Player Changes:

Drafted James Washington 60th overall; lost Martavis Bryant

Drafted Terrell Edmunds S 28th overall; signed Morgan Burnett

Strength of Schedule:

14th

Schedule Break-down:

Favored in 13 games this year

In nine games they are favored by 4 or more points; underdog in just one game (+1 @ NO week 16)

They play five top 10 opponents and five bottom 10 opponents

Season win total:

Over 10.5 +105 / Under 10.5 -125

Doc’s Pick:

Over 10.5 – I can’t find any reason why the Steelers won’t win 11 games this year. Perhaps the best QB/WR/RB combination in the league means plenty of points scored. The defense held 10 teams to 20 points or less last year. This is one of my favorites this year.

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