NFL Season Preview Part 1 The AFC North & NFC North

Welcome to the first in a four-part series where we are going to preview the forthcoming NFL Season. Starting here with the AFC and NFC North Divisions.

Featuring some of the biggest and most famous franchises in NFL History, not to mention some of the most feared and decorated teams, these two divisions are very popular with fans.

And of course, your typical NFL bettor enjoys a bet on the teams and games across both these divisions.

If you would like to enjoy a wager on either of the divisions in this article, then check out bet365 Sport. There you can find the latest betting on the outright markets, as well as each game of preseason and week one of the regular season.

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Let’s get underway now with a look at the AFC North first.

AFC North Preview

Baltimore Ravens

Key Info

  • Head Coach – John Harbaugh
  • Last Season’s Record – 10-7
  • Key Losses – Ben Powers (G), Josh Oliver (TE), Jason-Pierre Paul (DE)
  • Key Additions – Odell Beckham Jr (WR), Rock Ya Sin (CB), Trayvon Mullen (CB)
  • Key 2023 Draft Picks – Zay Flowers (WR), Trenton Simpson (ILB), Tavius Robinson (OLB)
  • Top 3 Offense – Lamar Jackson (QB), Mark Andrews (TE), Odell Beckham Jr (WR)
  • Top 3 Defense – Roquan Smith (ILB), Kyle Hamilton (S), Odafe Oweh (OLB)

This Baltimore Ravens team is primed to really push hard to win this division this year. Lamar Jackson’s future is sorted and the depth in the squad is excellent. This is a very good team.

Our Rankings (A to F)

  • Offense – Passing B+, Rushing A
  • Defense – Against Pass B+, Against Rush B+
  • Special Teams – A
  • Coaching – A-
  • Total – A-

Baltimore are a team I expect to make big strides from last year, even in a tough division like the AFC North. They are my outside bet to win the Super Bowl.

Latest Betting Odds with bet365

  • Divisional Champions – 5/2
  • Conference Champions – 11/1
  • Super Bowl Winners – 20/1

Cincinnati Bengals

Key Info

  • Head Coach – Zac Taylor
  • Last Season’s Record – 12-4
  • Key Losses – Jessie Bates (S), Vonn Bell (S), Hayden Hurst (TE)
  • Key Additions – Orlando Brown Jr (T), Nick Scott (S), Irv Smith (TE)
  • Key 2023 Draft Picks – Myles Murphy (DE), DJ Turner (CB), Jordan Battle (S)
  • Top 3 Offense – Joe Burrow (QB), Joe Mixon (RB), Ja’Marr Chase (WR)
  • Top 3 Defense – Treyt Hendrikson (DE), Chidobe Awuzie (CB), Logan Wilson (MLB)

This Bengals squad is one of the finest ever assembled in the history of the franchise. Joe Burrow and his passing attack will give headaches to every team they face this season.

Our Rankings (A to F)

  • Offense – Passing A, Rushing B+
  • Defense – Against Pass B, Against Rush B-
  • Special Teams – B+
  • Coaching – A-
  • Total – A-

The Bengals won this division last year and I am backing them to be battling hard with the Ravens to do likewise. Whoever gets home advantage in the playoffs between those two could be Super Bowl bound.

Latest Betting Odds with bet365

  • Divisional Champions – 5/4 fav
  • Conference Champions – 5/1
  • Super Bowl Winners – 10/1

Cleveland Browns

Key Info

  • Head Coach – Kevin Stefanski
  • Last Season’s Record – 7-10
  • Key Losses – Chase Winovich (DE), Hjalte Froholdt (C), Taven Bryan (DT)
  • Key Additions – Dalvin Tomlinson (DT), Juan Thornhill (S), Ogbonna Okoronkwo (DE)
  • Key 2023 Draft Picks – Cedric Tillman (WR), Siaka Ika (DT), Dawand Jones (T)
  • Top 3 Offense – Nick Chubb (RB), Deshaun Watson (QB), David Njoku (TE)
  • Top 3 Defense – Myles Garrett (DE), Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (DE), Greg Newsome (CB)

This is one of the better Browns teams of recent times, but they still need to get Deshaun Watson back to his very best. If they can, then they could be a surprising contender in this division.

Our Rankings (A to F)

  • Offense – Passing B, Rushing A
  • Defense – Against Pass C, Against Rush B
  • Special Teams – C+
  • Coaching – C+
  • Total – B

The Browns suffer from being in a physical tough division and it may be the results of those six games which decide whether they make the playoffs or not.

Latest Betting Odds with bet365

  • Divisional Champions – 18/5
  • Conference Champions – 20/1
  • Super Bowl Winners – 33/1

Pittsburgh Steelers

Key Info

  • Head Coach – Mike Tomlin
  • Last Season’s Record – 9-8
  • Key Losses – Cam Sutton (CB), Robert Spillane (LB), Devin Bush (ILB)
  • Key Additions – Cole Holcomb (LB), Patrick Petersen (CB), Isaac Seumalo (G)
  • Key 2023 Draft Picks – Broderick Jones (T), Joey Porter Jr (CB), Keeanu Benton (DT)
  • Top 3 Offense – Najee Harris (RB), George Pickens (WR), Pat Freiermuth (TE)
  • Top 3 Defense – TJ Watt (OLB), Minkah Fitzpatrick (S), Cam Heyward (DT)

The Steelers did very well to get to the brink of the playoffs last season with injuries to key players not helping them. Some solid additions make them one to watch in the toughest division in the AFC.

Our Rankings (A to F)

  • Offense – Passing C-, Rushing B
  • Defense – Against Pass A-, Against Rush B+
  • Special Teams – B+
  • Coaching – A-
  • Total – B

In any other division, you’d reckon the Steelers would be in with a real chance of the playoffs, but in the AFC North, I am not so sure given how tough this division is. They may just miss out once again.

Latest Betting Odds with bet365

  • Divisional Champions – 11/2
  • Conference Champions – 28/1
  • Super Bowl Winners – 50/1

NFC North Preview

Chicago Bears

Key Info

  • Head Coach – Matt Eberflus
  • Last Season’s Record – 3-14
  • Key Losses – David Montgomery (RB), Riley Reiff (T), Armon Watts (DT)
  • Key Additions – Tremaine Edmunds (ILB), Nate Davis (G), DeMarcus Walker (DE)
  • Key 2023 Draft Picks – Darnell Wright (T), Gervon Dexter (DT), Tyrique Stevenson (CB)
  • Top 3 Offense – Justin Fields (QB), D.J.Moore (WR), D’Onta Foreman (RB)
  • Top 3 Defense – DeMarcus Walker (DE), Tremaine Edmunds (MLB), Kyler Gordon (CB)

Some solid signigns on offence should help out Justin Fields, while Edmunds was the big money signing on defence. The Bears should be better, but not quite good enough for the playoffs.

Our Rankings (A to F)

  • Offense – Passing C+, Rushing A
  • Defense – Against Pass B, Against Rush B+
  • Special Teams – B-
  • Coaching – C+
  • Total – B-

The Bears are improving but I am not sure they have made enough progress to challenge the top teams in the AFC North.

Latest Betting Odds with bet365

  • Divisional Champions – 19/5
  • Conference Champions – 25/1
  • Super Bowl Winners – 50/1

Detroit Lions

Key Info

  • Head Coach – Dan Campbell
  • Last Season’s Record – 9-8
  • Key Losses – Jamaal Williams (RB), Mike Hughes (CB), DJ Chark (WR)
  • Key Additions – Cam Sutton (CB), David Montgomery (RB), Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (CB)
  • Key 2023 Draft Picks – Jahmyr Gibbs (RB), Jack Campbell (ILB), Hendon Hooker (QB)
  • Top 3 Offense – Amon-Ra St Brown (WR), Frank Ragnow (C), Jared Goff (QB)
  • Top 3 Defense – CJ Gardner Johnson (S), Cam Sutton (CB), Aidan Hutchison (DE)

One of the most improved teams of last season, they need to now go a step further and make the playoffs or even win the division and I think they have a great chance of doing both this season.

Our Rankings (A to F)

  • Offense – Passing B+, Rushing B
  • Defense – Against Pass C+, Against Rush B+
  • Special Teams – B
  • Coaching – A-
  • Total – B

The Lions may not have as many star names as other teams, but this is a fantastic team with great depth and it may well be that depth and spirit that takes them to big things this season.

Latest Betting Odds with bet365

  • Divisional Champions – 13/10 fav
  • Conference Champions – 9/1
  • Super Bowl Winners – 22/1

Green Bay Packers

Key Info

  • Head Coach – Matt LaFleur
  • Last Season’s Record – 8-9
  • Key Losses – Aaron Rodgers (QB), Allen Lazard (WR), Jarran Reed (DE)
  • Key Additions – Matthew Orzech (LS), Tarvarius Moore (S), Jonathan Owens (S)
  • Key 2023 Draft Picks – Lukas Van Ness (DE), Luke Musgrave (TE), Jayden Reed (WR)
  • Top 3 Offense – AJ Dillon (RB), Christian Watson (WR), David Bakhtiari (T)
  • Top 3 Defense – Devonte Wyatt (DE), Jaire Alexander (CB), Rashan Gary (OLB)

It’s a new era in Green Bay as Aaron Rodgers has moved on and this is now Jordan Love’s team. For the time being. This is a Packers roster starved of top ranking talent and it will show this season.

Our Rankings (A to F)

  • Offense – Passing D+, Rushing B-
  • Defense – Against Pass B+, Against Rush D
  • Special Teams – C+
  • Coaching – B
  • Total – C

I can’t really make too much of a case for a good season for the Packers here. I think Love is going to have a few settling in issues and they may end up bottom of the pile in the North.

Latest Betting Odds with bet365

  • Divisional Champions – 19/5
  • Conference Champions – 22/1
  • Super Bowl Winners – 50/1

Minnesota Vikings

Key Info

  • Head Coach – Kevin O’Connell
  • Last Season’s Record – 13-4
  • Key Losses – Dalvin Tomlinson (DT), Adam Thielen (WR), Patrick Peterson (CB)
  • Key Additions – Josh Oliver (TE), Marcus Davenport (DE), Byron Murphy (CB)
  • Key 2023 Draft Picks – Jordan Addison (WR), Mekhi Blackmon (CB), Jay Ward (S)
  • Top 3 Offense – Justin Jefferson (WR), TJ Hockenson (TE), Kirk Cousins (QB)
  • Top 3 Defense – Andrew Booth Jr (CB), Lewis Cine (S), Marcus Davenport (OLB)

The Vikings dud very well to claim a 13-4 record last season but I feel that this year things may be a little tougher in the North with the Lions and perhaps even the Bears pushing the Vikings more.

Our Rankings (A to F)

  • Offense – Passing A, Rushing C
  • Defense – Against Pass B, Against Rush B-
  • Special Teams – C+
  • Coaching – B
  • Total – B

The Vikings are a solid team but they have lost some key players and opponents in this division seem to be catching up. A tougher year lies ahead.

Latest Betting Odds with bet365

  • Divisional Champions – 3/1
  • Conference Champions – 16/1
  • Super Bowl Winners – 40/1

*All odds shown were correct with bet365 Sport at the time of writing, but may have changed in the meantime.

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