NFL betting: Should the Ravens still be AFC North favorites?

·2 min read

The Baltimore Ravens rolled through another undefeated preseason, but not without some of the wheels falling off. Season-ending injuries to their top two running backs and one of their best corners have Ravens fans feeling as bleak as an Edgar Allan Poe poem. And yet, the team is still favored at BetMGM to win the AFC North this year.

The Las Vegas Raiders are a live dog in Monday's matchup against the Ravens and I think there's some real value to be had in betting some last-minute AFC North props before Baltimore possibly drops to 0-1.

Once upon a midnight dreary

New lead back Ty'Son Williams has some pop in his game, but the 2020 undrafted free agent is no replacement for J.K. Dobbins, who led the NFL last year with six yards per carry. Gus Edwards was no slouch either, and with Justice Hill also out for the season, the depth behind Williams is a trio of once-upon-a-time running backs like Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and Le'Veon Bell

Rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman was drafted this year to help open up the passing game in the middle of the field, but was placed on injured reserve after he had to undergo core-muscle surgery and won't be eligible to return until at least Week 4. It may take some time for this offense to find its groove.

Perhaps the most devastating injury the Ravens suffered in camp was to defensive star Marcus Peters. Peters and fellow corner Marlon Humphrey each rank in the top 10 of PFF's best cornerbacks and helped shut down both sides of the field for opposing pass games.

Baltimore still has a solid defense and 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson, but it has so little room for error now. Any more significant injuries could torpedo its season. 

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are currently favored to win the AFC North. (Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports)
Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are currently favored to win the AFC North. (Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports)

Baltimore's divisional rivals all impressed on Sunday. The Bengals took the Vikings to overtime and beat them as three-point home underdogs, the Steelers came back from a double-digit deficit to pull off a stunning upset in Buffalo, and the Browns nearly toppled the Chiefs in Kansas City.

The Ravens have one of the tougher schedules in the NFL this year, while the Browns have the third-easiest. Even though they ended up losing, the Browns looked great yesterday on both sides of the ball and I love their chances to win the AFC North at +175. I also think there may be some value in +240 for the Ravens to miss the playoffs. If you're feeling a wild hair, you can get +2500 that Baltimore finishes last in the division.  

Stats provided by SharpFootball and Pro Football Reference.

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