NFL Playoffs Picture 2019: AFC North Teams Ranked

The 100th NFL season could be a year of change in the AFC North, with the Cleveland Browns ready to challenge the status quo after a long spell in the wilderness.

Cleveland has put together a roster good enough to reach the playoffs, while the Pittsburgh Steelers look to rebuild after Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell departed.

The Baltimore Ravens will again put faith in Lamar Jackson and a long season ahead looms for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Here's what to expect from the AFC North this time around.

Cleveland Browns

According to Oddschecker, the Browns are 6/4 favorite to win the division, fractionally ahead of the Steelers. To appreciate the significance of that statement, it is worth remembering Cleveland last won the division in 1989—when it was called AFC Central—and has finished with a losing record in each season since 2007.

Things, however, could soon change in Ohio. In his rookie season, Baker Mayfield helped the Browns to a 7-8-1 record after making his NFL debut in Week 3, their most wins in a season since 2014.

In the offseason, Cleveland has recruited a new arsenal of weapons, adding star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and running back Kareem Hunt to the roster.

After years of being the NFL whipping boys, Cleveland has its sights firmly set on a playoff berth and Mayfield could well be the man to guide that transition.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Browns have added Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson, and missing out on the postseason would be a disappointment for Cleveland.

That alone speaks volumes for how much things have changed for the Browns.

Prediction: 11-5

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns passes during the first half of a preseason game against the Washington Redskins at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 8 in Cleveland, Ohio. Jason Miller/Getty

Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh went 9-6 last season but missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013, as the off-field drama surrounding Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown threatened to unravel the franchise from the inside.

The duo left Pittsburgh in the offseason, with Bell moving to the New York Jets and Brown taking his shenanigans to the Oakland Raiders.

Without them, the Steelers might have lost two Pro Bowl talents—but coach Mike Tomlin hopes they will gain in team spirit.

JuJu Smith-Schuster will be Ben Roethlisberger's main receiving option without Brown and James Conner will be hoping to build on an excellent second season.

With Bell sitting out the campaign, Conner rushed for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games.

The Steelers are second favorites to win the division at 17/10 and will be looking for a swift return to the playoffs.

Prediction: 9-7

Baltimore Ravens

The Lamar Jackson era begins in its earnest in Baltimore, with the second-year quarterback now firmly the first choice under center.

Jackson replaced Joe Flacco halfway through last season and looked every bit the dual-threat quarterback the Ravens thought he was when they selected him with the 32nd overall pick of the draft.

Jackson has a new target in the shape of first-round pick Marquise Brown, while the Ravens have also added running back Mark Ingram and safety Earl Thomas.

Along with Flacco, linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley have both left the team.

At 3/1, the Ravens are third favorites to retain their divisional title, far from an impossible task given the AFC North looks wide open this season.

Prediction: 9-7

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have the NFL's joint-second easiest schedule. That is arguably the only source of optimism for Cincinnati, which is a 22/1 outsider to win the AFC North for the first time since 2015.

After 16 seasons at the helm, Marvin Lewis has been replaced by rookie coach Zac Taylor, who has a major task on his hands.

In Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Joe Mixon, the Bengals have solid offensive options, but Dalton is often undermined by a poor offensive line.

An already difficult situation has been made worse by the retirement of Clint Boiling and a season-ending injury to first-round pick Jonah Williams.

The Bengals could struggle this season and a repeat of last year's 6-10 record looks optimistic.

Prediction: 5-11.

NFL Playoffs Picture 2019: AFC North Teams Ranked | Sports
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