The AFC North is going to be a lot of fun this year as three teams could potentially win the division and the fourth has a young exciting quarterback that could help them spring some upsets if he gets time in the pocket. The Steelers won the division despite a wacky schedule towards the end of the season. Both the Ravens and Browns finished one game behind. Cleveland bolstered their already strong defense, while Baltimore tried to add more weapons for Lamar Jackson. There's definitely going to be some value to be found so let's take a look at the win totals.
2021 NFL Win Total Analysis by Division: AFC East I AFC North I AFC South I AFC West I NFC East I NFC North I NFC South I NFC West
Note: Win totals provided by the FanDuel Sportsbook
Baltimore Ravens (Over 11 EVEN...Under 11 -120)
Division Champion Odds: +115
Offense: Lamar Jackson accounted for nearly 4,000 yards in 2020 with 33 touchdowns combined to just nine interceptions. Baltimore added to his arsenal of weapons by signing Sammy Watkins in free agency and drafting Rashod Bateman out of Minnesota, but Bateman may not be available the first few weeks of the season. The run game is critical to the Ravens' success and it will be without J.K. Dobbins, who tore his ACL in the third and final preseason game. Gus Edwards, Justice Hill and possibly Ty'Son Williams will handle the workload in Dobbins' absence. The usually strong offensive line saw Orlando Brown and Matt Skura depart and Kevin Zeitler and Alejandro Villanueva come in.
Defense: The linebacking corps took two hits with Matt Judon departing to New England and L.J. Fort tearing his ACL in the preseason. This puts a little more pressure on the likes of Pernell McPhee and Patrick Queen, who led the team in tackles as a rookie last year. It's a veteran group up front with Derek Wolfe, Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell leading the way. The secondary is stacked once again especially if Tavon Young can stay healthy. It's hard to beat Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey at cornerback with Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott the starting safeties.
Schedule Notes: Baltimore opens with three of four on the road before coming home for three straight. Two of those contests are Monday night affairs. After the bye, they have four of their next six away from home including back-to-back trips to Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The payoff comes with three of the final four in Baltimore, but those games are against Green Bay, the Rams and the Steelers.
Prediction: Eleven wins seem like a solid number with maybe a slight lean to the under.
Related: Baltimore Ravens Depth Chart
Cincinnati Bengals (Over 6.5 EVEN...Under 6.5 -120)
Division Champion Odds: 16/1
Offense: Joe Burrow's rookie campaign was cut short due to injury, but he was successful when he was on the field. The Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick had just 13 touchdowns to five interceptions, but took too many sacks behind a leaky offensive line. The run game has to improve after averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Joe Mixon is the workhorse with Samaje Perine and Trayveon Williams behind him. Veteran A.J. Green is gone, but this WR corps is still going to be fun. Burrow's former LSU teammate Ja'Marr Chase has been added to a group that also includes Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Auden Tate.
Defense: The secondary sustained one big loss in William Jackson III, who signed with Washington, but added Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, Eli Apple and Ricardo Allen. The depth could serve as an overall upgrade. The defensive line also got a boost with the additions of free agents Trey Hendrickson (New Orleans) and Larry Ogunjobi (Cleveland). The linebackers are an intriguing group, but the weakest part of this defense.
Schedule Notes: The Bengals have three straight on the road from Weeks 6-8 with two of the trips being winnable. Starting Week 12, Cincinnati closes with five of the final seven at home. Two of those games come against Baltimore and Kansas City, but chances are the Bengals will be playing more for draft positioning by then.
Prediction: I come up with six or seven wins so no play here.
Related: Cincinnati Bengals Depth Chart
Cleveland Browns (Over 10.5 -105...Under 10.5 -115)
Division Champion Odds: +155
Offense: Baker Mayfield took a monster step in his development last year with 26 touchdown passes to only eight interceptions. This offensive system fits him well as he balances with the run game that was fantastic with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt fitting their roles nicely. This side of the ball was untouched and for good reason. Everything seemed to work and the offensive line was spectacular with Wyatt Teller becoming a star. Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. will start at wide receiver but there's a lot of hype surrounding Donovan Peoples-Jones this preseason.
Defense: Once again there were some free-agent alterations to this side of the ball as Jadeveon Clowney, Malik Jackson, Takkarist McKinley, John Johnson III, and Troy Hill all signed. Some other players left but this defense should be deeper and could take another step forward. Myles Garrett had 12 sacks in 14 games last year and could go over that total in 2021. The only weakness could be at linebacker, but there are plenty of options including second-round pick Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
Schedule Notes: The Browns open up with the Chiefs on the road before five of their next seven are at home. They get some winnable games in that mix so a fast start should be expected. November features road trips to New England and Baltimore before a really late bye week.
Prediction: I come up with 10-11 wins so no play here.
Related: Cleveland Browns Depth Chart
Pittsburgh Steelers (Over 8.5 +110...Under 8.5 -130)
Division Champion Odds: +440
Offense: Any sort of success this offense hopes to have will be tied to the health of Ben Roethlisberger. Coming off of elbow surgery, he tossed 33 touchdowns to 10 interceptions and was a reason why the Steelers started out 11-0. I'm really excited to see what rookie running Najee Harris does with so many touches right out of the gate. He's looked solid in the preseason and is an Alabama product, so he knows about winning. The WR group is one of the best in the AFC with Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The only question marks come up front with the departure of three veteran starters. With Roethlisberger now 39 years old and not as mobile as he once was, it's critical that the remade line comes together quickly.
Defense: The secondary will look a little different with cornerbacks Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson leaving in free agency. Joe Haden and Cameron Sutton should for a solid duo at corner while the safeties will remain strong with Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds. The front seven has a ton of continuity but Bud Dupree signed with Tennessee and fellow linebacker Vince Williams retired at the beginning of training camp. Alonzo Highsmith is an intriguing replacement but Pittsburgh also made a move by acquiring Joe Schobert from Jacksonville. His coverage skills should only help complement the style this defense likes to play. Quarterbacks are constantly going to be under pressure against Pittsburgh with T.J. Watt, the reigning NFL sacks leader, and Stephon Tuitt leading the charge.
Schedule Notes: Pittsburgh opens up with four of their first six at home before a Week 7 bye. It comes at a good time before a Halloween contest in Cleveland. The Steelers also play Baltimore, Minnesota, Tennessee and Kansas City over a 21-day span in December. If the division is still up in the air in January, Pittsburgh hosts Cleveland before playing at Baltimore.
Prediction: Slight lean to the over only because of the +110 price. I came up with eight or nine wins so if this was -110, it would be a no play.
Related: Pittsburgh Steelers Depth Chart