AFC North Betting Odds: Ravens And Browns Surging, Steelers Fading

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson winds up to throw a pass in a game against the Denver Broncos
Image Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Since the NFL’s radical realignment in 2002, it’s been difficult to tell the story of the AFC North without giving the Pittsburgh Steelers (nine division titles in that span) a featured role in the discussion.

But after just four weeks of 2021 action, the aging Steelers are 1-3 and seemingly on the path to irrelevancy as they look up at two Super Bowl contenders (Ravens, Browns) and the up-and-coming Bengals. All three clubs are riding high at 3-1.

With the AFC North already looking somewhat upside-down — at least from the Steelers’ preseason perspective — breaks down the updated odds to win the division.

Odds courtesy of BetMGM, Circa Sports, DraftKings, FanDuel, and TwinSpires, and updated as of 4 p.m. ET on Oct. 7.

Baltimore Ravens (3-1, 2-2 ATS)

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown raises his hands to catch a football
Image Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Odds to win division:
BetMGM: +105
Circa Sports: +120
DraftKings: +100
FanDuel: +105
TwinSpires: -104

— The Ravens had the toughest four-game start of any AFC North club, encountering three teams from the AFC West (Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos), which is arguably the conference’s most competitive division. And two of those contests (Las Vegas and Denver) were on the road).

— Heading into Week 5, Baltimore boasts top-10 rankings in rushing offense (3rd overall, 164.5 yards per game), total offense (4th, 420.0 ypg), and scoring offense (8th, 26.3 points per game).

— There’s a nice reward for a club that’s forced to travel three times in September: The Ravens won’t hit the road again until Week 10. In the meantime, Baltimore has four home outings (Indianapolis, L.A. Chargers, Cincinnati, and Minnesota) and a bye week.

— In the Lamar Jackson era (2018-present), the Ravens own a 12-6 record inside the division with a plus-97 scoring differential. Of course, that includes seasons when the Steelers were good.

— Looking at the schedule moving forward, five the of the Ravens’ remaining opponents (including the Steelers twice) are currently winless or have one victory.

Cleveland Browns (3-1 SU and ATS)

Image Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Odds to win division:
BetMGM: +110
Circa Sports: +120
DraftKings: +120
FanDuel: +110
TwinSpires: +115

— As you can see, the Browns and Ravens are essentially co-favorites in the betting market, with an ever-so-slight lean toward Baltimore at most sportsbooks. Barring some key injuries or lengthy losing streaks, don’t expect that to change between now and late November, when these rivals meet for the first time in 2021.

— Cleveland’s next three opponents (L.A. Chargers, Arizona, and Denver) boast a combined record of 10-2. If the Browns can get through this mini-stretch at 2-1 or even 3-0, their schedule gets considerably easier in Weeks 8-11 (vs. Steelers, at Bengals, at Patriots, vs. Lions).

— The Browns currently lead the NFL in rushing offense, averaging 177.0 yards per game. Cleveland also slots 12th in both total offense (389.3 ypg), and scoring offense (25.0 ppg). On the other side of the ball, the Browns and Panthers are the only defenses with top-four rankings in scoring defense and team sacks.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-1, 2-2 ATS)

Image Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Odds to win division:
BetMGM: +900
Circa Sports: +605
DraftKings: +900
FanDuel: +1000
TwinSpires: +1000

— Should NFL pundits truly be shocked by Cincinnati’s fast start? Outside of the Denver Broncos — who opened with easy wins against the Giants, Jaguars, and Jets, the Bengals might have had the league’s most palatable slate of September opponents: Minnesota and Jacksonville at home; Chicago and Pittsburgh on the road. Combined record of that quartet: 4-12 (which includes Cincinnati’s narrow loss in Chicago).

— The most surprising development of the productive first month: Cincinnati hasn’t cleared 27 points in any game this season … yet it still sports a plus-17 scoring differential. So credit a vastly improved Bengals defense that last year got burned for an average of 26.5 points per game.

— Despite Cincinnati currently sitting in a three-way tie for first, it’s clear that the betting market views the AFC North as a two-horse race between Baltimore and Cleveland. Still, based on the above odds, some bettors at Circa definitely have faith in the Bengals.

— Cincinnati has one notable scheduling quirk, moving forward: It’s the only AFC North team to have a bye-free stretch of three consecutive road games (at Detroit, at Baltimore, and at N.Y. Jets from Weeks 6-8), and three consecutive home dates (vs. Steelers, Chargers, and 49ers from Weeks 12-14). In fact, from Weeks 12-17, Cincinnati has a block of five home games and just one road trip (at Denver).

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3 SU and ATS)

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gets sacked in a game against the Green Bay Packers
Image Credit: Mark Hoffman-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Odds to win division:
BetMGM: +2500
Circa Sports: +4000
DraftKings: +2000
FanDuel: +2500
TwinSpires: +2500

— It’s petty obvious that the betting community has overvalued the Steelers early in the season. Since its upset of the Bills in Buffalo in Week 1, Pittsburgh has dropped three straight games both on the scoreboard and at the betting window.

— It doesn’t take long to identify Pittsburgh’s big problem: Its offense ranks 28th in scoring (16.8 ppg) and dead-last in rushing offense, averaging just 55.3 ground yards. Now you know why all four of the Steelers’ games have stayed Under the total.

— Last year, the Steelers’ dynamic receiving trio of Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Chase Claypool combined for season-long averages of 82.3 catches, 127 targets, 876 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. However, just four games into the 2021 campaign, only Johnson has found the end zone for Pittsburgh’s anemic offense.

— With each passing week, the Steelers’ season-opening victory in Buffalo looks more and more stunning. Just a month later, Pittsburgh is the clear-cut long shot to win its own division, while the Bills have the fifth-best odds of taking home the Lombardi Trophy (+850).

Jay Clemons
Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media's national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out,,, The Players' Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's pre-eminent award for Best Football Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and now American Affiliate's Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta. And for the betting community, covering the last two years of the sports calendar (2019-20 / 2020-21), Clemons enjoyed a rock-solid winning rate of 59.6 percent with point-spread and over/under selections (NFL, college football and college basketball.)