Cleveland Browns Favored To Win AFC North Following Deshaun Watson Trade

Quarterback Deshaun Watson. Carmen Mandato/Getty Images/AFP

The Cleveland Browns move to the forefront of the AFC North across multiple top-rated sportsbooks after securing a controversial trade with the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson last week.

The Browns are installed at DraftKings as the +175 favorites while FanDuel tips them at +185.

Of course, these are just two examples from a wide range of legal online sportsbook trading in North America, but these revamped markets are symptomatic of the current outlook for the AFC North.

In trading for Deshaun Watson, Cleveland’s stock has improved substantially, leapfrogging both the formerly favored Baltimore Ravens and the Super Bowl LVI runners-up Cincinnati Bengals.

As things currently stand, the Ravens are the second-best bet at +200 while the Bengals are trading at +220 on the betting odds board.

The early NFL future odds of +185 give the Browns an implied probability of +35.1% of winning. The Ravens at +200 have a 33.3% probability of winning while the Bengals at +220 have are a smidgen longer at a 31.3% probability of winning.

The Pittsburgh Steelers round out the AFC North market as the fourth-best bet, but with odds of +850 they’re the quintessential longshots of the field with an implied probability of 10.5%.

Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season since taking over the head coaching job in 2007. He’s led the team to nine playoff runs, seven division titles, three AFC Championship Games, two Super Bowl appearances, and a title in Super Bowl XLIII.

That said, Ben Roethlisberger hung up his cleats this offseason. To fill the void the veteran signal-caller leaves, the Steelers signed Buffalo Bills backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who is expected to be the starter next season. Suffice it to say, a Trubisky-led Steelers doesn’t inspire any confidence.

AFC North Odds

*Odds are available at FanDuel

  • Cleveland Browns +185
  • Baltimore Ravens +200
  • Cincinnati Bengals +220
  • Pittsburgh Steelers +850

Watson Raises Cleveland’s Stock

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that bookmakers believe Watson is a massive upgrade on Baker Mayfield.

Equally, by that same token, one could argue that the Browns organization are of the same mind. Otherwise, why trade for Watson in the first place or, even, up the ante to acquire him at all costs, especially knowing full well that he comes with hefty baggage that is not only unresolved but could evolve further and bite them down the line.

Of course, Cleveland’s value hasn’t only improved in division betting markets but also in the AFC Conference as a whole and Super Bowl 57.

The Browns are the fourth-best bet at +900 to win the AFC, falling behind the Bills (+330), the Kansas City Chiefs (+550), and both the Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos (tied at +850).

For Super Bowl 57, the Browns fall inside the top 10 best NFL picks, which includes the aforementioned quartet and several NFC contenders, namely the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers.

Should Bettors Bet On Cleveland To Win AFC North

At this point in time, Cleveland Browns’ sudden ascent in the market feels like nothing more than misplaced hype — never mind the fact this isn’t the first time that this has happened where the Browns are concerned. Watson hasn’t played for over a year, which raises questions about his game fitness.

There’s also a big question mark about his mental state. The toll of fielding 22 claims of sexual misconduct has taken on him.

Normally, trades involve an adjustment period, making allowances for getting to know a new team and coaching staff and learning a new scheme and playbook.

This embittered quarterback has that and more to contend with as he continues to deal with the serious charges that were brought against him and their aftermath. It’s also worth noting that his legal woes aren’t over.

So, without knowing how those will unfold over the next few months or whether the league may yet levy a suspension or some sort of punishment his way –something that is being considered –Watson remains an unknown commodity in more ways than one. Thus, it’s impossible to take Cleveland’s odds at face value.

Super Bowl 57 Odds

  • Buffalo Bills +650
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers +700
  • Kansas City Chiefs +950
  • Los Angeles Rams +1100
  • Green Bay Packers +1100
  • Los Angeles Chargers +1500
  • San Francisco 49ers +1500
  • Denver Broncos +1500
  • Dallas Cowboys +1500
  • Cleveland Browns +1800
  • Baltimore Ravens +2100
  • Cincinnati Bengals +2200
  • Tennessee Titans +2400
  • Indianapolis Colts +2400
  • Arizona Cardinals +2500
  • Minnesota Vikings +3500
  • Miami Dolphins +3500
  • New England Patriots +3500
  • Philadelphia Eagles +4000
  • Las Vegas Raiders +4000
  • New Orleans Saints +4000
  • Washington Commanders +5500
  • Pittsburgh Steelers +7000
  • Chicago Bears +8000
  • Jacksonville Jaguars +8000
  • New York Giants +8000
  • Seattle Seahawks +8000
  • Carolina Panthers +10000
  • New York Jets +13000
  • Detroit Lions +14000
  • Atlanta Falcons +18000
  • Houston Texans +22000