Just before the 2021 NFL Draft, the sportsbook posted regular-season win totals for each team. Those odds came down on Draft Day, but now that the selections have been finalized and the schedule released, NFL regular-season win totals are back. Here’s what’s changed on the AFC North odds board in the last few weeks.
Baltimore Ravens (+125)
- April 24: 11½ Ev o/-130u
- May 17: 10½ -150/+120
Coming into the offseason, the Ravens were in one of the best positions in the league to contend again after an 11-5 season. Baltimore traded away T Orlando Brown Jr. to the Chiefs the day before the draft, weakening its offensive line.
Baltimore failed to draft his replacement but did sign former Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva in early May. The Ravens selected Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman and DE Odafe Oweh in the first round. Both players figure to play a big role for the Ravens next year as they attempt to make the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
This negative line move can be attributed more to the Ravens difficult schedule than their recent personnel moves. Coach John Harbaugh has called Villanueva an “upgrade” over Brown and the Ravens were graded as having the fourth best draft on aggregate. The Ravens have the second most difficult schedule in the NFL based on their opponents’ 2020 records and are facing eight playoff teams from last season. Regardless, the public is bullish on Baltimore’s chances to hit the over and so am I.
Cleveland Browns (+135)
- April 24: 10 -125o/-105u
- May 17: 10½ -140/+110
Following the draft, the Browns win total line has moved from 10 to 10½ and the public is betting the over. The Browns have the ninth toughest schedule in the NFL so a lot of the positive movement rests on the perception of the Browns draft class.
The Browns, by nearly all accounts, had a terrific draft in their own backyard. The Browns addressed their hole at CB and took Northwestern’s Greg Newsome II with the 26th pick. The Browns took a chance on Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round and it remains to be seen what the Notre Dame playmaker’s NFL position will be. He slipped hard in the draft and is a little small for a linebacker but can potentially be a jack of all trades for the Browns. Cleveland made a shrewd pick in the third round, snapping up Auburn WR Anthony Schwartz.
Even with a solid draft and 2020 season behind them, I’m a bit wary of the betting public’s perception of this Browns team. The Browns finished 2020 with a -11 point differential even with the NFL’s 24th most difficult schedule.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+325)
- April 24: 8½ -125o/-105u
- May 17: 8½ -115/-115
The Steelers line hasn’t moved much since the draft but it is trending in a negative direction. Pittsburgh suffered an implosion in 2020 after an 11-0 start and failed to measurably improve its roster in the offseason.
Pittsburgh lost C Maurkice Pouncey to retirement and T Alejandro Villanueva in the offseason and decided to wait until the latter stages of the draft to replace them. Instead, the Steelers prioritized offensive players who could make an impact right away in the twilight of Ben Roethlisberger’s career.
In taking Alabama’s Najee Harris, Pittsburgh drafted a running back in the first round, which NFL teams typically avoid. TE Pat Freirmuth was the Steelers’ second round selection. Both could end up being studs but many were left wondering why the Steelers didn’t draft a lineman until the third round. The Steelers have an uneven roster and the NFL’s toughest schedule in 2021, but it’s hard to count a Mike Tomlin-coached team out.
Cincinnati Bengals (+1800)
- April 24: 6½ -115o/-115u
- May 17: 6½ -115/-115
It was unlikely that Cincinnati was going to be able to improve enough to compete in the AFC North, with three 2020 playoff teams in its division. Hence, the Bengals win line is exactly the same as it was before the draft.
The Bengals made a bit of a controversial choice by not taking T Penei Sewell with the fifth pick in the draft, especially with Joe Burrow coming off of a torn ACL. They did, however, get the consensus best WR in the draft in Ja’Marr Chase. Chase will be reunited with his LSU QB in Burrow as the Bengals build their offense of the future.
By trading down in the second round, the Bengals were able to secure two additional picks in the fourth round to round out depth. Other notable Bengals selections include: second round pick Jackson Carman (G), third rounder Joseph Ossai (DE) and fourth rounders Cam Sample (DE), Tyler Shelvin (DT) and D’Ante Smith (T). The future looks bright for the Bengals but it’s hard to see them improving too much over 2020’s 4-11-1, so this line is about right.