The Cleveland Browns are the favorites to win the AFC North.
Well, at least according to the odds over at Caesars Sportsbook via sportsline.com.
In their futures bets, the Browns are at +170 odds to win their division.
Deshaun Watson to Browns odds changes: Cleveland now favored to win AFC North, jumps to 16/1 on Super Bowl 57 futures https://t.co/4nAFzhlyBx via @SportsLine #NFL #NFLTwitter #Browns #BrownsTwitter @BrownsDigestSI @BrownstownUSA @Browns
— SportsLine Fantasy (@SportsLineDFS) March 18, 2022
Of course, the betting odds in March aren’t exactly perfect indicators of what will happen this season.
The NFL Draft is right around the corner and rosters are still changing.
However, it’s a good sign of the progress Andrew Berry and the front office have made so far this offseason.
Are the current odds for the Browns to win the AFC North justified?
Could that change as we get closer to the season?
Let’s take a deeper look.
The Deshaun Watson Effect
Any time an organization upgrades to one of the league’s best quarterbacks, their odds of winning are going to go up.
That’s no surprise to anyone. For the Browns, landing Deshaun Watson takes the roster to a different level.
Watson thinks the roster is ready to compete with him at the helm, as mentioned in an interview with the Browns’ Nathan Zegura earlier this week.
“You got Myles, you got Amari Cooper now, you got the whole offensive line, you got the two running backs, the tight ends, you got the receivers, I mean you have the whole thing that you need.”, Watson explained to Zegura. “And then you got the defensive side… you got the secondary, linebackers, and d-linemen, I mean, it’s the complete package… And all those guys mostly coming back, I mean, it could be really special. So, I wanted to be a part of that”.
Deshaun knows the roster is littered with talent, and the fans know that too.
With guys like Myles Garrett, Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward, and a talented offensive line, the team should not have finished at just 8-9.
Inconsistent play from an injured Baker Mayfield did not help.
With high-level, consistent quarterback play expected this season (some of the season if Watson is suspended), there’s no question that expectations are once again high for this organization.
The Rest of the North
The other teams in the AFC North have had much quieter offseason’s compared to Cleveland.
Pittsburgh brought in Mitch Trubisky to be their new starter, the Bengals are coming off a Super Bowl appearance, and the Ravens look poised for success again if they can stay healthy this season.
Looking specifically at the quarterback situation, Cleveland goes from worst to first at QB.
Here's how the projected starting AFC North QBs fared against various passing defenses in their careers. It appears that Watson is far and wide the best QB in the division. #Browns pic.twitter.com/7FaQpo9AsT
— David Hrusovsky Sports (@davehrus) March 24, 2022
Having a top-tier quarterback changes everything. Joe Burrow in Cincinnati is a prime example of that as the Bengals are far from the most talented team on paper.
Still, we saw that him performing at a high level carried the Bengals into the big game.
Just a friendly reminder that Joe Burrow:
– Won the AFC North
– Broke the Bengals playoff drought
– Beat the number one seed in the AFC on the road
– Swept Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs
– Made the Super Bowl
All in his first full season, with a below average o-line. pic.twitter.com/TaK1geSI1K
— Patrick Carey (@PatCareySports) March 28, 2022
Shockingly enough, Cleveland swept the Bengals last season, and that came without Watson.
On paper, Cleveland still has the upper hand here.
Baltimore loves Lamar Jackson. He’s electric on the field, however, his teams are just 1-3 in the postseason.
Regular season success is expected if Jackson is healthy, another question in and of itself.
The Browns have done well with Jackson defensively, minus the shootout on Monday Night Football in December of 2020.
The two sides should have a pair of awesome battles this season.
As for Pittsburgh, a massive question mark looms over them at the quarterback spot.
Is Trubisky the answer?
Will they make another move in the Draft?
Could Mason Rudolph get another chance to start?
Time will give us an answer there. Pittsburgh made improvements on defense earlier this month, perhaps the most significant being linebacker Myles Jack.
Maintaining drives on offense is still likely to be an issue though.
Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse
The past three seasons in Cleveland have had high expectations heading into them.
Two of those fell way flat. Plenty of hype surrounds the organization once again.
Even with Cincy off an AFC title, it’s no surprise to see Cleveland as the betting favorites in the North.
It all comes down to Deshaun Watson.
If he excels, the division is theirs for the taking.
If not, expect Baltimore or Cincinnati to be at the top.
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