Could the Cincinnati Bengals’ 0-2 start turn them into one of the most undervalued teams in the NFL?
It’s starting to look like that with the latest odds to win the AFC North.
Cincy is set at +475 to win the division this season, good for third, only ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sure, the Bengals are 0-2 on the season, but the team was in the same spot in 2022 and went on to not only win the division, but make the AFC title game for the second straight season.
Oddsmakers seem to be discounting Cincy’s ability to go on a win streak, and it’s also possible that they’re expecting quarterback Joe Burrow, to miss time with his calf injury.
Still, that shouldn’t be enough to completely tank the Bengals’ odds to win the division.
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AFC North odds following Week 2
Browns have better odds to win AFC North than Bengals
The craziest part about the latest AFC North odds may be the fact the Cleveland Browns (+360) are well ahead of the Bengals in this market.
Yes, Cleveland did beat the Bengals in Week 1, but it lost a division game to the Steelers on Monday Night Football and lost star running back Nick Chubb for the season in the process.
Chubb, who is clearly the engine that makes the Browns offense run, is going to be hard to replace, especially since Deshaun Watson is struggling in 2023.
Through two games, Watson has just 389 yards passing, two touchdowns and two picks while completing only 55.1 percent of his passes. He’s been unable to take over games like he did during his time in Houston, making it much harder to trust Cleveland this season.
As long as Burrow isn’t out for an extended period of time, the Bengals clearly have the better quarterback play between them and the Browns. The fact that there is this big of a gap in their odds is extremely disrespectful.
Don’t overreact to Cincy’s slow start
The Bengals have bounced back from slow starts before in the Burrow era, and while it may be tough to catch the Baltimore Ravens, it’s not impossible.
Lamar Jackson has dealt with injuries in the past two seasons, so there’s no guarantee he’s able to play all 17 games for Baltimore this season. Plus, the Bengals flipped the division in 2022 by winning eight straight games to close the season.
Burrow’s calf is the only concern I’d have when it comes to the team’s outlook in the futures market, but I don’t think the injury is serious enough to warrant this drop off in the AFC North odds.
There are still 15 (!!) more games to play!
If you believe in the Bengals to turn this season around, there may not be a better chance to take them to win the division than right now.
Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.