NFL Win Total Predictions – AFC North

07 / 14 / 2022 By Ally Mielnicki

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The AFC North is a division featuring some of the most bitter rivalries. The Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens, the Cleveland Browns, and the Cincinnati Bengals are highly-competitive teams who despise each other. That resentment makes for overly entertaining and intense competitions in every matchup. The fans get rowdy, the players get aggressive, and even the coaches get heated.

Until a few seasons ago, this division centered around the Steelers and the Ravens as perennial victors of the division. However, last year, Joe Burrow and the Bengals set the stage, proving they will be the team to beat for seasons to come. In response, the Browns acquired DeShaun Watson from the Texans, ending the Baker Mayfield era. At the same time, the Steelers drafted the University of Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett to take over for future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger, who hung up his cleats after a storied career. And let’s not forget the Baltimore Ravens, who anticipate the return of MVP Lamar Jackson after missing the last 5 games of 2021 due to injury.

This division has all the makings of a grind-it-out to-the-finish fight for who will claim the title. Will the Bengals repeat? Will the Ravens bounce back? Can Pickett be the Steelers’ next franchise QB? And will Watson take the field in 2022? Let’s take a look at the win totals.

Baltimore Ravens

Over/Under Win Total: 9.5 (-150/+130)

Prediction: Over

Last year, the Ravens were on their way to another playoff berth – potentially a division win – until Lamar Jackson went down with an injury in Week 13, forcing him to miss the rest of the regular season. Entering Week 13, the Ravens were sitting at a comfortable 8-4 record but ultimately lost their final 6 games to finish the year with a disappointing 8-9 mark. If Jackson had not suffered a season-ending injury, Baltimore would have secured at least a Wild Card berth and potentially the division title.

In his 5th season, Jackson returns to the field without his No. 1 wideout, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who was dealt to the Cardinals in the offseason. Still, the Ravens have enough talent on the offensive and defensive front to emerge as serious contenders in the AFC. They bolstered the defense by adding S Marcus Williams and NT Michael Pierce and upgraded even further in the draft by selecting S Kyle Hamilton and EDGE David Ojabo with their first two picks. 

Though Hollywood Brown is gone, the Ravens still have an explosive run game with J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, along with the dangerous legs of Jackson. They may be weak at the WR position, but Rashod Bateman should step up to take over the No. 1 slot, and Mark Andrews remains Jackson’s favorite target at TE. 

As long as the defense stays healthy, the Ravens should be able to make a significant run at the postseason and hit double-digit wins. 


Cincinnati Bengals

Over/Under Win Total: 10 (+105/-125)

Prediction: Over

Even though the Bengals defied odds by winning the AFC Championship game and coming within one quarter of winning the Super Bowl, this team is still undeservedly disrespected heading into the 2022 season. 

The Bengals were one of the most dynamic offensive teams last season, engineered by the duo of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. However, while Burrow lived up to the expectations of being a No. 1 overall draft pick, his offensive line struggled to protect him. Burrow led the league in sacks last season and was consistently under pressure in the pocket. As a result, the Bengals focused their offseason on upgrading the line by signing Alex Cappa, La’el Collins, and Ted Karras.

Ten wins may seem like a high number, but this team can compete with the Bills for the best record in the AFC. Cincinnati has the benefit of playing a relatively easy schedule before their bye week. In their first 9 games, only 2 of their opponents reached the playoffs last season – the Cowboys & Steelers. Dallas will be a playoff contender this season, but Pittsburgh is sure to regress as they no longer have Ben Roethlisberger starting under center. 

Though the second half of the season will be progressively more challenging for the Bengals, this team has shown on multiple occasions it can compete with more formidable opponents. Cincinnati will have to oppose the Chiefs, Bucs, Bills, and Titans following the bye, but with a revamped offensive line, the Bengals may prove to be even better than last season. Cincinnati should have no problem reaching the double-digit win mark. Over is our play.


Cleveland Browns

Over/Under Win Total: N/A

Prediction: N/A

Until the league announces the disciplinary action surrounding QB DeShaun Watson, there is no win total available at most sportsbooks. However, the consensus around the NFL and many media pundits speculate that Watson will be suspended, most likely for the entire season. If that is the case, then the Browns will turn to journeyman Jacoby Brissett to start since Baker Mayfield is now a member of the Carolina Panthers. 

Though the Browns made an impressive run in the 2020 season, winning a playoff game in the Wild Card round 2021 was an utter disappointment. Unfortunately, Mayfield received the brunt of the blame, even though he never fully recovered from a shoulder injury he sustained in the 3rd game of the season. He also had to deal with the drama Odell Beckham Jr. caused on his way out of Cleveland and the unavailability of Jarvis Landry, who struggled to stay on the field.

Whether we see Watson or Brissett under center, there is now a new receiving corps led by former Dallas Cowboys wideout Amari Cooper. Still, that may not be enough to compete with the defending AFC Champions Bengals and the Ravens, who are sure to be in playoff contention with the return of Jackson.

If Watson plays an entire season, I expect the win total to be around 8.5. In that case, I will take the under. If Watson is forced to miss a whole season due to suspension, then the win total may be about 7, which I will take the under as well. It’s going to be a long season in Cleveland. 


Pittsburgh Steelers

Over/Under Win Total: 7 (-125/+105)

Prediction: Under

The Steelers needed about 25 scenarios to go their way to make the playoffs last year, and with all the luck in the world, they did just that. However, the Ben Roethlisberger era is officially over in Pittsburgh, and the search for his successor will take place this year. 

It seems as though Pittsburgh has seen enough of Mason Rudolph over the last few seasons to know he is not the long-term answer. In response, the Steelers signed former Bears QB Mitch Trubisky and drafted University of Pittsburgh prospect Kenny Pickett No. 20 overall. As of now, it appears Trubisky is the favorite to land the starting gig, but things could change if the Steelers start the season on a rocky note. 

One thing is sure; the Steelers have loaded up on offense with a solid receiving corps of Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and TE Pat Freiermuth. Add Najee Harris, Ben Snell Jr., and Anthony McFarland Jr. at RB, and the Steelers boast an impressive arsenal. Still, unless Pittsburgh figures out the QB situation, it could be a long season for the silver and black. The Steelers have one of the most rigid schedules in the league, with non-conference opponents such as the Bills, Bucs, Colts, and Saints. We are taking the under here. 


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