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AFC North Bets: Are The Browns Worth it To Win Division?
It’s hard to remember the last time there were such high expectations surrounding the Browns heading into the football season. But after making it within a few minutes of a trip to the AFC title game, a division title at the very least is within the realm of possibilities.
That being said, is it worth it to place a bet on the Browns winning their first division since 1989? We’ll look at some of the pros and cons.
According to the latest odds, the Browns are not quite the favorite to win the AFC North. Cleveland sits at +155, behind only the Ravens at +115.
The Browns are quite a bit ahead of the defending division champion Steelers, who enter the season at +440. Meanwhile, the Bengals are a distant fourth at +1600.
Reasons to Bet the Browns
On roster alone, there are few in all of the NFL that match up to the Browns. Cleveland had three All-Pros just on their offensive line alone in 2020, headlined by tackle Jack Conklin, along with All-Pro Myles Garrett at edge rusher. They also had running back Nick Chubb secure a spot in the Pro Bowl.
Looking up and down the roster, you’ll find the Chubb and Kareem Hunt duo that gave Cleveland an elite rushing attack, the return of Odell Beckham Jr. at receiver, as well as the addition of Jadaveon Clowney to bolster the pass rush. In addition to Clowney, the entire defense has gotten a bolster with draft picks Greg Newsome II and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and free-agent additions Troy Hill and John Johnson.
The difference may come down to the performance of Baker Mayfield, however. Mayfield turned a corner around Week 7 of last season, throwing 16 touchdowns to two interceptions from that point on. If that turnaround is to be believed, his play could lead them to the division crown.
Reasons to Stay Away
The AFC North is still one of the toughest divisions in football. The Ravens, who are favored to win the division, have a former MVP in Lamar Jackson and one of the few running games that are ahead of the Browns. The Steelers, who won the division in 2020, still have an exceptional defense.
Even the Bengals, who have been in the cellar for the last few seasons, look to be better in 2021. The strong competition means that Cleveland will have to be at their best all season to beat out all three of these teams.
As far as the Browns go, there are questions about the pass-rush, mainly if Clowney is going to be an impact player after a couple of injury-ridden, up-and-down seasons. There is also worry that Beckham’s return might impact Mayfield, as the QB’s numbers improved significantly after OBJ suffered a season-ending injury.
By all accounts, the Browns are for real. Their overall roster is among the strongest in the NFL, and their primary competitors are more in reach than ever before.
The biggest x-factor is Mayfield, as the team will go if he goes. But it’s worth betting on his second-half performance to carry over, which means it’s worth betting the Browns to win their first division in over 30 years.
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