2016 AFC North Preview

2016 AFC North Preview

Welcome to Bet Labs 2016 NFL preview series where we will look at all eight of the league’s divisions. As part of the preview, we will highlight each team’s chances of winning their respective division and take a look at their season win total.

To create our projections we simulated the 2016 NFL season 10,000 times using our NFL Strength of Schedule.

Previous division previews: NFC East, AFC East, NFC North, today the AFC North.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 8.05.30 AM

2015 Record: 10-6

Home Games: KC, NYJ, NE, DAL, NYG

Away Games: WAS, PHI, MIA, IND, BUF

Pittsburgh got some bad news already this year, the team will be without the services of Le’Veon Bell for four games and Martavis Bryant for the full season. Yet, the Steelers should still have one of the top offenses in football with Ben Roethlisberger (the best quarterback in the division) and Antonio Brown (the best receiver in football). On the other side of the ball the defense is young and improving. Pittsburgh is the odds on favorite to win the division and our simulations agree.

Steelers O/UOver%Under%Implied Odds
1044.0%35.0%-126/+126
10.544.0%56.0%+127/-127
1124.3%56.1%+231/-231

The Steelers average projected record is 10-6 (happens 21.0% of the time in the simulations). Pittsburgh wins the division 56.1% of the time – it would be the team’s seven AFC North title in since the division realigned in 2002.

Cincinnati Bengals

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 8.05.43 AM

2015 Record: 12-4

Home Games: DEN, MIA, WAS, BUF, PHI

Away Games: NYJ, DAL, NE, NYG, HOU

Last year was exciting for Bengals fans, until it wasn’t. The team began the season 7-0 (best start in franchise history), won the AFC North title for the second time in three seasons and clinched a playoff spot for a franchise record fifth straight year. Then Cincy lost to Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round – it was the 25th straight season without a playoff win for the Bengals. Cincinnati now has the record for most consecutive seasons with a playoff loss in the first round (five).

The Bengals likely won’t begin the season with a long winning streak and it is just as improbable that they get to 12 wins again (11.2% chance). 2016 could feel the way last season ended. The average projection sees the Bengals go 9-7 and finish behind Pittsburgh in the division once again.

Bengals O/UOver%Under%Implied Odds
944.0%35.3%-125/+125
9.544.0%56.0%+127/-127
1025.0%56.0%+224/-224

Our simulations are in line with the Vegas oddsmakers. The bookmakers have set Cincy’s total at 9.5 games. You would need +127 or better odds to place a wager on the over.

Baltimore Ravens

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 8.05.56 AM

2015 Record: 5-11

Home Games: BUF, OAK, WAS, MIA, PHI

Away Games: JAX, NYG, NYJ, DAL, NE

2015 was a complete disaster for the Ravens. Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett, Steve Smith, Sr., and Terrell Suggs all suffered season ending injuries. Ultimately, 22 players ended the season on injured reserve. Health (or lack thereof) was a major factor in the franchise suffering its first losing season in the John Harbaugh/Flacco era.

It is unlikely that the Ravens are one of the most injured teams in football again this season but that doesn’t mean Baltimore will have a winning record. The team’s most likely result is an 8-8 campaign (1-in-5 chance of occurring).

Ravens O/UOver%Under%Implied Odds
835.6%44.4%+125/-125
8.535.6%64.4%+181/-181
919.0%64.4%+339/-339

If you can get the under 8.5 wins at better than -181 odds you would have expected positive value.

Cleveland Browns

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 8.06.07 AM

2015 Record: 3-13

Home Games: NE, NYJ, DAL, NYG, SD

Away Games: PHI, MIA, WAS, TEN, BUF

The Browns find themselves in rebuild-mode once again. Hue Jackson becomes the ninth coach in Cleveland since the franchise reestablished in 1999. The organization has some interesting pieces (RG3, Josh Gordon, Duke Johnson, Gary Barnidge) but you’ll only get excited about these players if you roster them for fantasy. Cleveland has the longest odds to win the Super Bowl and the worst odds in the league to win its division (0.5%).

The Browns average record after 10,000 simulations is 4-12 (occurs 22.2% of the time).

Browns O/UOver%Under%Implied Odds
447.9%29.8%-160/+160
4.547.9%52.1%+109/-109
527.6%52.1%+189/-189

Cleveland has the lowest season win total in football. You would need +109 or better odds to even think about taking the over at 4.5 games.

AFC North Division Odds

TeamDivision Win Probability
Pittsburgh Steelers56.1%
Cincinnati Bengals31.2%
Baltimore Ravens12.2%
Cleveland Browns0.5%

Few teams in the league, let alone the division, can match the offensive firepower of the Steelers. Pittsburgh retakes the AFC North title as Cincinnati and Baltimore battle it out for a possible Wild Card berth. Cleveland spends the 2016 season celebrating the Cavs NBA Championship.

Check back next week when we preview the NFC West.

©2016 Sports Insights Inc.

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