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AFC North Odds Update: Deshaun Watson Trade Slashes Browns Odds

Upon acquiring quarterback Deshaun Watson, the AFC North odds have been updated and the Cleveland Browns are now favorites to win the nip-and-tuck AFC North Division.
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AFC North Odds Update: Deshaun Watson Trade Slashes Browns Odds

Amongst the annual circus that is March Madness, there has also been plenty of NFL offseason news over the past week. Tom Brady unretired after just two months, Robert Woods landed in Nashville and Von Miller signed with Buffalo. Minus the Brady news, no developing story has compared to that of the Cleveland Browns’ quarterback position. The trade has changed the AFC North

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Browns Trade for Deshaun Watson, Promptly Sign Him to Lucrative Contract Extension

Despite a legal case that could still lead to discipline from the league, Deshaun Watson seemed to have as much say as he pleased in where the Houston Texans traded their one-time franchise quarterback. After Watson initially balked at the Browns’ contract offer, he got a bit of an assist from another disgruntled QB, Baker Mayfield. Once it became apparent that Mayfield was unwilling to return for another season in Cleveland, the Browns were left with little choice but to pay up for Watson. 

First, there are the three first-round draft picks that the Browns sent to the Texans. Cleveland did not stop there, however. Watson himself made out pretty darn well in the deal as the Browns signed him to a five-year, $230 million contract extension upon completion of the trade. Oh, and that sum is fully guaranteed by the way. Needless to say, Watson should have no issues in settling any financial penalties that might result from his ongoing legal issues.

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AFC North Division Odds Update in Wake of Deshaun Watson Trade

The official terms of Deshaun Watson’s new contract have the Browns locked into paying the 26-year-old a hefty base salary of $46 million in each of the next four years. However, the key element to note is that the deal is quite team-friendly for the 2022 NFL season. 

Watson’s base salary for the upcoming season is not much above $1 million. His cap hit sits at just over $10 million. Note that like the base salary, Watson’s cap hit on the Browns will also balloon to nearly $55 million starting with the 2023 season.

Given the fact that the Browns will have a greater budget to work with for the upcoming season, they are more likely to fill in a championship-caliber team around their new star quarterback. Keep in mind that Cleveland will also net some return assets when they do find a willing trade partner for former No. 1 overall pick, Baker Mayfield. 

According to the NFL betting oddsmakers, acquiring Watson was enough to move the needle on the Browns in the AFC North Division futures market. The table below lists the updated division odds and implied probabilities for all four teams, with Cleveland now the prospective favorite.

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AFC North Odds Update

TeamOddsImplied Probability

Considering that the Browns also traded for a big-name wide receiver this offseason in Amari Cooper, it’s no surprise to see the AFC North odds shift in their favor. Of the four teams within the division, Cleveland has easily had the sexiest offseason in terms of headlines. That being said, it is almost impossible to feel great about betting on the team with the shortest return given the perceived parity within the AFC North.

Is the Market Move on the Browns an Overreaction?

The Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens are currently co-second choices in the AFC North Division odds. Although neither franchise has had anywhere close to the headline-inducing offseason that the Browns have had, both figure to again be formidable players in the division race this season.

The case for the Bengals goes largely without saying. The defending AFC North champs parlayed their surprise division title into an even more surprising Super Bowl appearance. If Cincinnati is able to address deficiencies along the offensive line and on defense, they will be primed for another successful season. They certainly already got off to a good start by signing tackle, La'el Collins. Joe Burrow may only have two NFL seasons under his belt, but he is already one of the best quarterbacks in all of football.

Speaking of star QBs, let’s not forget that the Ravens have one of their own in Lamar Jackson. The former NFL MVP has transformed how people view “dual-threat” quarterbacks. It should be noted that Jackson also showed tremendous signs of improvement last season in terms of his accuracy and decision-making as a passer.

Baltimore was snake-bitten by injuries last year, a trend that started all the way back in the preseason. The list of players on the sidelines only grew as the season wore on. Assuming better health, the Ravens are arguably the most attractive futures bet to make as far as current AFC North odds are concerned.

Then, there’s the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ben Roethlisberger era is now over, but Mike Tomlin remains in charge of the franchise. Needless to say, the Steelers’ longshot AFC North odds of +850 don’t exactly correlate with the fact that Tomlin has never had a losing season as head coach. With reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt also in tow, perhaps new signal-caller Mitchell Trubisky and the Steelers will be more competitive than some think.

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Henry has had a passion for sports that few can match for as long as he can remember. What started out as a five-year-old taking interest in the New York Jets and their green jerseys has since become a full-fledged career as a writer and sports betting analyst. His coverage primarily includes the NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR, college football, and college basketball. In 2020, he ranked among the top-10 most accurate experts ATS in the BettingPros NFL season contest. You can follow Henry’s sports work on Twitter and other social media platforms @HankTimeSports.


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