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What Anybody Interested In Sports Betting Needs To Know About The NFL AFC North

Aug 17, 2007
If you are at all interest in Sports Betting then you must know what's going on with the AFC North.

In the 2006 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl behind a staunch defense, a time-consuming ground attack, and the steady play of young, Ben Roethlisberger. Coming from the Wild Card position of the AFC North, the Steelers overcame the odds by defeating the Indianapolis Colts (who steamrolled through the regular season, amassing a League-best 14-2 record) and the New England Patriots (winners of 3 Super Bowls with Bill Belichek and Tom Brady). The road will only be more difficult this season, with the departures of Jerome Bettis (Retirement), Antwaan Randle El, Chris Hope and Kimo von Oelhoffen (all Free Agency). Additionally, the Steelers spent the off-season dealing with Roethlisberger's motorcycle accident, which required lengthy surgeries, but should not affect the start of the start of the 2006 campaign. The addition of rookie wideout Santonio Holmes should help keep the double teams off of superstar, Hines Ward. Although the Conference's best defense returns 9 starters, the big question remains Roethlisberger's health and inactivity during the summer. Behind Coach Bill Cowher, the Steelers are 7-1 favorites to repeat as champions this season.

The Cincinnati Bengals finally erased fifteen years of disappointment by posting an 11-5 record, and capturing the AFC North division title. Led by the dynamic aerial assault of Carson Palmer (QB) and three young, talented wide receivers (Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry), and the steady running of Rudi Johnson, the Bengals were usually able to overcome a shaky defense and outscore most opponents. However, the playoff excitement quickly came to an end when Carson Palmer went down with a knee injury in the first quarter of their opening playoff game against the rival Steelers. Although veteran, Jon Kitna had served the Bengals well as a backup quarterback and part-time starter, his off-season departure to Detroit has left Bengal fans nervous about the long-term effects of Palmer's injury. However, the additions of free agents Sam Adams (DT) and Dexter Jackson (S), and the continued development of second-year standouts David Pollack (LB) Odell Thurman (LB), should mean that opposing offenses will have a greater challenge in putting points on the board. Coach Marvin Lewis has built a winner in Cincinnati by a "my way or the highway" approach, and by getting the players to believe in themselves. Vegas odds makers are also starting to believe, as well, giving them a 16-1 shot at winning it all.

The enigma by the Harbor that is Brian Billick, Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens, limped through the 2005 season to a 6-10 record, and third place finish in the division. Most of the members of the legendary 2000 team that won Super Bowl XXXV have retired or moved on to bigger paydays, and general manager, Ozzie Newsome, has largely been left paying for the financial sins of building a champion. In addition to McNair, the Ravens also signed Mike Anderson (RB), Trevor Pryce (DE) and drafted Haloti Ngata (DT) to offset the losses of Maake Kemoeatu and Anthony Weaver. A key question mark is going to be how previously dependable running back Jamaal Lewis bounces back from a disappointing 2005 season, marred by injury and legal problems. Not much is expected from the 2006 version of the Ravens, but the acquisition of Titans quarterback, Steve McNair, and the healthy returns of Lewis (LB) and Ed Reed (S), at least give the Ravens a puncher's chance. But Vegas thinks the punch is pretty weak (odds: 42-1)

It's hard to say how disappointing the Cleveland Browns 6-10 season of a year ago was. For Browns players and fans, of course it was agonizing, but considering no one outside the Cuyahoga expected much from this undersized and out-manned squad, it may have actually been a step forward. Additionally, the organization decided to take its lumps in 2005 by releasing overpriced and under performing veterans. The payoff was a lot of cap space in the off-season, and the Browns brought in impact free agents Ted Washington (DT), Willie McGinest (DT), LeCharles Bentley (C) and Joe Jurevicius (WR). Surprise performers were found in Charlie Frye (QB) and Reuben Droughns (RB), and a finally healthy Kellen Winslow (TE) should help in the offensive improvement, but off-season knee surgery to Braylon Edwards (WR) could impact the vertical game. The Browns are probably still a year or two away from being a threat in the AFC, but they do have the talent and attitude to upset some teams this season. (Vegas odds: 50-1)
About the Author
David James is one of the world's foremost sports handicappers. Not only does James have an uncanny knack for knowing who to bet on, but he also is one of the best at providing in depth explanations and statistics showing exactly why each pick meets his criteria. Click on this link if you would like to learn how to be successful at Sports Betting
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