Welcome to Bet Labs 2017 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 2017 NFL season 10,000 times using team projections and adjusting for Strength of Schedule.

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

Pittsburgh Steelers

2016 Record: 11-5

Home Games: MIN, JAC, TEN, GB, NE

Away Games: CHI, KC, DET, IND, HOU

The Steelers would like to build upon their success in 2016. The team won the AFC North for a second time in three years and made the playoffs for a third straight season. Offensively few teams can match Pittsburgh’s firepower. With Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell (arguably the best trio in football) and a top ten defense by DVOA, another run to the AFC Championship seems in the cards.

The Steelers average projected record is 11-5 (happens 21.1% of the time in the simulations) and have a 52% chance of winning 11 or more games.

The team’s season win total is set at 10.5, you’d think there would be value betting the OVER but at -130 odds there isn’t. In fact the UNDER (+110) has some value as there is a 48% chance the team wins 10 or fewer games but this is a bet I would probably avoid.


Week 1: Steelers vs. Browns

This Pro System is 77.4% ATS since 2005

Unlock the pick today


Baltimore Ravens

2016 Record: 8-8

Home Games: CHI, MIA, HOU, DET, IND

Away Games: JAC, OAK, MIN, TEN, GB

It has been two years now since the Ravens made a postseason appearance. That is the first time since 2004-05 that Baltimore had failed to reach the playoffs in consecutive years and the first time since 1999 the team didn’t have a winning record in back-to-back seasons as well.

To end the streak Ozzie Newsome made it a priority to strengthen a defense that was sixth in efficiency by signing Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson and Cowboys corner Brandon Carr. On the other side of the ball the Ravens ranked 15th in weighted offense by DVOA and got an upgrade with the additions of running back Danny Woodhead and perhaps the best receiver on the market in Jeremy Maclin.

If everything clicks this is a team that could surprise and give the Steelers a run for their money in the division. Baltimore has a one-in-five chance of taking the AFC North and the team’s most likely record is 9-7.

The team has a win total of 9 games. There is a 45.6% chance they win 10 or more games and a 54.4% chance of finishing 8-8 or worse. There is no value betting either side.

Cincinnati Bengals

2016 Record: 6-9-1

Home Games: HOU, BUF, IND, CHI, DET

Away Games: GB, JAC, TEN, DEN, MIN

2016 was a disappointment as the Bengals finished with a losing record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Cincy has now gone 26 years without a playoff win, ouch!

Though last year was frustrating for Who Dey the team only enjoyed three games where its two best offensive weapons (A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert) played together. Cincinnati also went 1-5-1 in games decided by seven points or less. We’d expect positive regression in one-score games and for the team to see its dynamic duo play more together.

The Bengals added speedster John Ross to play across from Green and Joe Mixon to compete for the starting running back job while resigning Dre Kirkpatrick to keep the defense respectable. The team’s biggest weakness is its offensive line, which could be key as Andy Dalton is a much different quarterback when under pressure.

Our simulations see Cincy finishing with an average record of 9-7. The Vegas win total is set at 8.5 games. The Bengals win nine or more games 49.3% of the time. The OVER (+110) offers some value.

Cleveland Browns

2016 Record: 1-15

Home Games: NYJ, TEN, MIN, JAC, GB

Away Games: IND, HOU, DET, LAC, CHI

It is hard to be a Browns fan. Cleveland hasn’t had a winning record since 2007 or won a playoff game since 1994. For a team continuously rebuilding there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.

The Browns made three picks in the first round this year including taking Myles Garrett (consensus best player) first overall. Jabrill Peppers (safety/punt returner) and David Njoku (tight end) give the team more building blocks. Cleveland also upgraded its offensive line by resigning Joel Bitonio before importing Kevin Zeitler and JC Tretter. The question mark at quarterback remains but the team isn’t ready to compete yet so there is time to figure it out.

Vegas isn’t expecting another one-win campaign (win total of 4.5), either are we. Cleveland’s average record after 10,000 simulations is 4-12 (21.2% chance). There is a 50.5% chance the team wins five or more games giving value to the OVER (+105).

AFC North Division Odds

The Steelers are the clear favorites once again in the division. At -115 odds there is value betting Pittsburgh to win the AFC North.

TeamOddsProjected Chance (%)
Steelers-11562.3
Ravens+28020.9
Bengals+29016.5
Browns+33000.4

Check back next week when we preview the NFC West.