2016-NFL-Pre season-AFC North teams short preview

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens had a solid draft that really helps their depth coming into this season. The offensive line has been bolstered and Baltimore suffered so much in the way of the “injury bug” last season that I expect a complete reversal this season. The Ravens only covered five of their 16 games last season and I expect to see a lot of value with Baltimore early this season as the markets may be slow to adjust to just how solid this team is when they aren’t bogged down with injuries. The Ravens look to be improved on both sides of the ball as they also did well in the draft on the defensive side of the ball plus the acquisition of safety Eric Weddle in free agency bolsters the secondary. Experience, talent, and some added depth through the draft combine to make the Ravens a likely team on the rise this year. Remember that Baltimore was a 10-6 team in 2014. They’ll respond after the 2015 debacle.

Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals were a stellar ATS team in 2015 and, of course, these trends have a way of quickly reversing. The ball bounced the way of Cincinnati last year to put it mildly. While this is certainly still going to be a strong Bengals team in 2016 there will have to be some drop-off at the cashiers’ window. The loss of receiving talent – in the form of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu – is going to affect Cincy this year. This defense looks solid again and the Bengals have gone 19-13 to the ‘under’ the past two seasons and there could be some value again in the ‘under’ department this year. A tough early season schedule is going to test the moxie of this team and I will likely look for value in going against them early this season after they covered an insane 11 of their 16 games last season.

Cleveland Browns – The Browns have some excitement with Robert Griffin III on board but of course it is tough to get too excited when you’re off of a 3-13 season and have struggled for so many years. Cleveland is unlikely to see much of a change in success level this season because their defense lost a ton of starting talent. Still, off of a season where they covered just five of their 16 games, we may see some early line value spots with the Browns. The best value however is likely to be with the totals. The defense lost so much (in terms of starters) that I expect it to be a problem and this will be especially true early on in the new season. Look for the Browns to have solid potential for being an ‘over’ team early this season as it takes time for the new personnel to jell on defense.

Pittsburgh Steelers – If Cincinnati does drop off a little it is likely that the Steelers will be there to gladly take their place. My only problem with the Steelers from an ATS perspective is that it could be tough to find spots where there is line value with them. They had one of the top offenses in the league last year and that tremendous production should continue this season (even without wide receiver Martavis Bryant) as they already proved last year that they could move the ball very well even when key guys like Le’Veon Bell are sidelined. On defense, the Steelers secondary should be improved but it is important to evaluate early on how some of the new talent is developing. If they struggle at the NFL level the Steelers could be in for some shootouts as the secondary must come together quickly. Better health in the running back department and a better schedule (face AFC East and NFC East this season) equates to a solid season for the Steelers but it will be a “pick your spots” situation for value as some of the lines could be inflated.