The AFC North should be one of the strongest and most competitive divisions this season. The Browns have a lethal defensive line and get OBJ back from injury. Pittsburgh added some ROY candidates in Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth. The Ravens snagged more wide receivers in hopes to balance out its offense. Then, we have the Bengals, a team that hopes to be healthier in 2021. Cincinnati is seeking any positive steps forward. So, how do these storylines impact my 2021 AFC North Season Predictions?
A new NFL season means a few renewed traditions at The Wife Hates Sports. First and foremost, it’s THE WIFE releasing an ultra-heavy dose of eye rolls, as she knows the next chunk of months will see the weekends swallowed up by football (both college and pro). Secondly, it’s time for KP’s NFL season predictions, specifically piggybacking off the SportsChump and his annual Over/Under Contest, where you predict the upcoming regular season win totals of NFL teams (by confidence).
Only, this year will feature something new. While I will – and did – complete my top ten over/under win total bets for the 2021 season, I’ll also tackle every team’s record (by division).
Specifically, here are my 2021 AFC North Season Predictions – oh, and don’t forget that the upcoming year has been supersized to seventeen regular season games.
Team – 2021 O/U
- Baltimore Ravens – 11
- Cleveland Browns – 10.5
- Pittsburgh Steelers – 8.5
- Cincinnati Bengals – 6.5
Above features the projections from Vegas, and here are my picks for the AFC North:
2021 AFC North Season Predictions: Over/Under Win Total Bets
Cleveland Browns – (10.5 wins – OVER)
For those that don’t trust Baker Mayfield, simply at his numbers from last season (his best – 26 TD, 8 INT). Add in OBJ, who will be back and healthy. Then look at the defense, especially the front seven, which includes Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, and Malik Jackson, among others. The pass defense finished in the middle of the league in 2020, but has since added John Johnson III and Ronnie Harrison. Grant Delpit is available, as well. Overall, the division will be a challenge, but this team should be a force.
KP’s Prediction: 12-5 | Confidence: Medium
Baltimore Ravens – (11 wins – PUSH)
The question has never been Lamar Jackson’s legs or the Baltimore running game. The Ravens led the NFL in rushing last season (191.9 ypg). JK Dobbins was injured during the preseason (and is out for the year), but the Ravens are confident with its depth at the position. Baltimore’s ferocious defense also was 7th in total yards allowed last season. It has been the inconsistency in the passing game. Some place it on Jackson’s arm. Others mention scheme. Most outline the lack of consistent play outside deep threat Hollywood Brown and TE Mark Andrews. Add in Sammy Watkins and rookie WR Rashod Bateman and we could see more consistency and balance from the offense. Despite all this, Baltimore’s schedule is a challenge. Aside from the four games against the Steelers and Browns, the Ravens also face the Chiefs, Rams, and Packers. This number looks right on line to me.
KP’s Prediction: 11-6 | Confidence: Medium
Pittsburgh Steelers – (8.5 wins – OVER)
Eight and a half wins – really? Sure, the 2020 Steelers (12-4) faded down the stretch, but this was a very strong team for the majority of the season. Add in rookies RB Najee Harris and TE Pat Freiermuth, who I think will have a big impact. The WR core features JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool. Add in a talented defense that finished 3rd in the league in yards allowed last year (305.8 ypg). The real question will be whether Ben Roethlisberger can stay healthy and on the field. Even without Ben, this could easily be a nine win team. The schedule and division will be brutal, but with this much talent and quality coaching, the Steelers should remain in the mix throughout the season.
KP’s Prediction: 11-6 | Confidence: High
Cincinnati Bengals – (6.5 wins – UNDER)
The headlines haven’t been kind to rookie WR Ja’Marr Chase. First, it was way too many drops during the preseason. Now, there are other rumors circulating surrounding his personal life. Whether true or not, it’s still a potential distraction. Joe Burrow is coming off a major injury and we can’t know if his body will hold up. This was a middle-of-the-road pass defense (19th last season) that lost a key piece in William Jackson III. Add in a brutal division that features the Steelers, Browns, and Ravens. The Bengals have offensive talent and should be competitive, but don’t expect it to reflect positively in the standings.
KP’s Prediction: 5-12 | Confidence: Medium High
Who do you have hoisting the AFC North division crown? Chime in via the comments section below and as always, thank you for visiting The Wife Hates Sports!
Recap of all Teams/Divisions for the 2021 NFL Season
- AFC East Preview
- NFC East Preview
- AFC West Preview
- NFC West Preview
- AFC North Preview
- NFC North Preview
- AFC South Preview
- NFC South Preview
- NFL Top Ten Over/Under Win Total Bets
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