Friday, June 14, 2019

NFL 2019 countdown: Are the Cleveland Browns really AFC North Favorites?

NFL 2019 countdown: Are the Cleveland Browns really AFC North Favorites?

The countdown to the NFL 2019 season is on and sportsbooks have released their futures odds for the regular season.

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The NFL 2019 season kicks off on September 5th as teams fight it out for a place in Super Bowl LIV.

Sportsbook futures always lead to talking points and perhaps the biggest this summer is the Cleveland Browns. The AFC North team leads odds to win the division. On the surface, many NFL followers will question how the Browns become sportsbooks’ favorites to win the AFC North. Yet, it isn’t much of a mystery when we dive a little deeper.

Can the Cleveland Browns continue on last season’s success?

The Browns surprised their own fans last season by finishing 7W-8L-1T. Rookie Baker Mayfield didn’t start the season under center but by week 3, he had solidified himself as Cleveland’s No. 1 when Tyrod Taylor went down with an injury.

History was against Mayfield when he became Cleveland’s starting quarterback. He was the franchise’s 30th different starting quarterback since the Browns re-entered the NFL as an expansion franchise in 1999.

Mayfield went on to throw for 27 touchdowns and 3,725 yards. It was a remarkable turnaround to the countless rookie quarterbacks who failed time and again in a Browns jersey.

Cleveland finished last season with a 3W-2L-1T record in the AFC North. Their three division wins tied AFC North winners the Baltimore Ravens divisional wins record. Head coach Freddie Kitchens may just have a team poised to breakout for the NFL 2019 season.

Have the Cleveland Browns improved?

On paper, the Browns’ trade for New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr was a masterstroke. Beckham is just 26-years old and in the prime of his career.

Last season saw Beckham return from an injury that cost him 2017. The Giants weren’t great even with Beckham back in the lineup for 12 games. New York finished 5-11 with Beckham recording 1,052 yards on just 77 receptions. He also tallied six touchdowns.

Beckham gives Mayfield a top receiver to throw to. The three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver is a game changer and the duo could be unstoppable.

Although Beckham’s signing looks great on paper, he is unhappy with the Giants trading him to Cleveland. According to reports from the NFL Network, Beckham hasn’t learned the offense and skipped OTAs this spring.

With a new offensive coordinator, the Browns seem to have some confusion with their offense. The good news is, it is spring and the NFL season is still over two months away. This is what preseason is for.

Can the Browns really win the NFL 2019 AFC North?

The simple answer is ‘yes’ the Browns can win the AFC North. Leading sportsbooks have the Browns as +125 to win the division and carry on their success of last year.

The Pittsburgh Steelers missed the playoffs last year but still gave 37-year-old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a crazy $68 million contract with a $37.5m signing bonus. Can he still lead the Steelers to the playoffs?

The Cincinnati Bengals are the Bengals and the Ravens are anyone’s guess. Consistency will be key for the Browns. Although favored by sportsbooks, it doesn’t mean they will come good and win the division.

AFC North odds

  • Cleveland Browns +125
  • Pittsburgh Steelers +150
  • Baltimore Ravens +250
  • Cincinnati Bengals +1400

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