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NFL Betting: Advice for tackling opposing teams in the AFC North

The latest NFL betting lines for AFC North teams this season.

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To prepare for the upcoming NFL season, I am slowly working my way through each division. Once the season starts, I’m not just interested in the final win total; instead, I’m looking for any and all information that can help me make week-to-week decisions. After researching each AFC North team, these are the factors I’m taking into account for a potential future or current season.

Joe Burrow, quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals, was a major contributor to the team’s success last season with 47 touchdown passes and nearly 4,600 passing yards. Burrow’s chemistry with Ja’Marr Chase was electric. When it came to deep targets, Chase was third in the NFL and he was fifth in yards after the catch. Investing in Chase overs on a weekly basis in the prop market paid off handsomely. But that was against the second-easiest passing schedule. No games were played by Burrow and the Bengals offense against a passing defense that ranked in the top ten. The Bengals’ receiving corps has a lot of talent, so it’s no surprise that they finished second in the league in yards after catch.

The Bengals’ passing defense schedule this year is expected to be the toughest of any team’s schedule. That’s the biggest change out of all 32 clubs. However, I don’t think that means you should bet heavily on the under for Cincinnati’s win total this season. Even with a tougher schedule, this Burrow team could still contend with some tweaks to the offensive line.

With my strategy for betting on the Bengals this year, I’m still considering taking the over on the longest reception by Chase. Later in the season is when the Bengals’ schedule gets tough. All six defenses that Burrow and Chase will face in Weeks 1 through 6 ranked in the bottom 18 in yards allowed per completion against the pass. After Week 6, things may start to get more challenging. Out of the remaining 11 games, seven will be played against teams that rank in the top half of the league in yards allowed per completion, and six will be played against teams that rank in the top 10. Give me the season’s longest reception to Chase, please.

A point worth noting: The Bengals were the underdog in 15 games last season. They’re the underdog this season in three categories. Because of the drastic change in opinion, I refuse to adjust the season win total.

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Ravens of Baltimore

Key positions on defense, offense, and running back were all affected by injuries last season for the Ravens. Even starting quarterback Lamar Jackson had to sit out for a while due to an injury. There are too many injured Ravens players to list individually, so it’s easier to just say that the team is 32nd in terms of health. The Ravens’ offense may have been impacted by injuries, which would explain why they were 31st in the league in third-down conversion rate, fifth worst in turnover margin, and 32nd in sack margin. I’m on the hunt for seasonal reversals. The Bengals had the easiest schedule last year but will have the toughest this year, and the Ravens had the 16th-hardest schedule but will likely have the second-easiest. For that reason alone, I’m willing to give Baltimore another chance.

To top it all off, the Ravens’ defense may have a feasting ground with the quarterbacks it faces. The likes of rookie Kenny Pickett, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, Trevor Lawrence, and Sam Darnold may all play for this team if everyone stays healthy.

My strategy for taking on the Ravens this year

Several strategies spring to mind for this group.

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One, will the Ravens make the playoffs? Yes (-165)

After Week 12, Baltimore was the top seed, but they went on a six-game losing streak and were eliminated from postseason contention. Jackson missed those five games due to injury. Even though backup quarterback Tyler Huntley did a great job of covering points, the team still needed Jackson to secure the victories. The margin of defeat in four of the five games without Jackson was three points or less.

The odds of the Baltimore Ravens winning the AFC North are +155.

Rather than finishing 8-9, the Ravens might have gone 14-3. Six of their nine defeats were decided by seven points or less. The Ravens might be ready to go if their injury situation improves and their schedule gets easier. Extra cash? I’m going to accept this offer.

Bet on the underdog Ravens ATS

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The Ravens went 8-9 against the spread last year after going 21-10 in both of the previous seasons. I expect Baltimore to cover more spreads, especially as an underdog, than they did last year because of this. After going 5-1 against the spread as underdogs in 2017, the Ravens are now 9-1 ATS as underdogs over the last three seasons and 14-4 ATS over the last four. That’s the best record against the spread among NFL underdogs. In weeks 4 (at Buffalo), 8 (at Tampa Bay), and 18, the Ravens are predicted to be underdogs (at Cincinnati).