NFL odds makers will be taking the Browns 2007 form onboard when setting the odds this season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers won this division again last year, but fell in their first-round playoff game. And while covering six of their first eight point spreads, Pittsburgh went 2-6 vs. the NFL betting lines after that. The Steelers ranked third in the league in rushing, and first overall in defense. But in losing four of their last five games, they gave up more than four touchdowns per outing.
QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Willie Parker and WR Santonio Holmes (18 YPC as a rookie last year) should keep the ball moving. But Pittsburgh lost OG Alan Faneca in free-agency, and there are other questions along both the O line and in the secondary.
The surprising Cleveland Browns won 10 games last season, and also went 12-4 vs. the NFL betting lines. The offense ranked 8th overall, led by QB Derek Anderson and his 29 TD passes, but he also threw 19 INTs. And the Browns defense ranked just 30th overall, and 27th vs. the run. RB Jamal Lewis ran for 1,300 yards, but his mileage is adding up. Meanwhile, WR Braylon Edwards emerged as a threat at WR, catching 16 TD passes.
Last year, a 4-2 finish couldn’t save the Cincinnati Bengals from a 2-6 start. And while the Bengals went 7-9 ATS, they were just 3-6 ATS when the NFL betting lines listed them as chalk. QB Carson Palmer is one of the league’s best, but he threw 20 INTs last year. The WR combo is dangerous, but the Bengals averaged less than 100 YPG rushing. And the defense ranked 27th overall, and dead last in sacks. Cincinnati got LB Keith Rivers with the ninth pick in the draft.
The Baltimore Ravens again suffered from an anemic offensive attack last year, and a nine-game losing streak (along with a 3-13 mark ATS) sent coach Brian Billick packing. Now the Ravens have an unsettled QB situation and a new head coach. John Harbaugh inherits a defense that ranked sixth overall last season, and second vs. the run, but an offense that ranked 22nd, and will likely be pedestrian again this year. QB Steve McNair and OT Jonathan Ogden retired this offseason, so the starting QB slot is up for grabs, and there’s a large hole on the O line.