Less than a week before all is right with the world and the NFL kicks off, the odds makers at Bovada have the Browns at 5 to 1 to win the AFC North. The Browns have the worst odds of any team in the division with Bengals (+180), Steelers (+210), and Ravens (+225) bunched towards the top.
While few will argue that the Browns should have the worst odds of any team to win the division, the verdict is out on whether 5 to 1 odds are too high or too low.
Those are the same odds given to both Tampa Bay and St. Louis to win their respective divisions and at 5 to 1 are better odds than both San Francisco (+600) and Denver (+600) have to win the Super Bowl. Do the Browns really have a better shot at winning the North than San Fran and Denver have at winning the Super Bowl?
Mathematically I suppose they do — with 32 teams gunning for the Lombardi trophy and only 4 vying for the North crown it does make sense for the odds to lay like they do. However, seeing that I’ve never been alive for a Browns division title, it seems much more likely to me for Manning or Kaepernick to be crowned champions than for Weeden to be slinging it around First Energy Stadium in a home playoff game come January.
Compared to the other divisions around the league, only the NFC East has tighter competition than the AFC North with the Eagles having the worst odds to win the division at 4 to 1. While the Browns have the worst odds in the AFC North, 5 to 1 makes the Browns seem like a sure thing compared to the Jets (+1400), Cardinals (+2000), and Raiders (+2000) division chances.
The AFC North has been one of the biggest limiters to success for the Browns since their rebirth. With six games against Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati on the schedule every year the gauntlet has been laid out for the Browns. With only four teams in the division, one would think the Browns would have at least one division title in the last 13 years, but we all know logic and probability are continuously defied by the Browns’ ineptitude and misery. Comedian Mike Polk said it best in his Factory of Sadness video, “It’s actually statistically harder for a team to be this consistently bad than it is for them to be occasionally accidentally good.”
So while 1 in 5 are the chances of something that realistically could happen, I’m not buying it. Yes, this team has a much improved front seven, and dominated in their first two preseason games, but last week’s loss to the Colts was a reality check. If I’m going to bet on a Brandon Weeden led team to win the division, I’m going to need more than a $50 payout for my $10 bet. I could place that same bet on Trey Burke to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and feel much more confident. I’d even feel more confident putting $10 on the Cavs’ Anthony Bennett to win ROY paying out $140 for a $10 bet at 14 to 1. How about the Thunder to win the NBA title at 6 to 1 or even for Duke to win the NCAA basketball crown at 10 to 1? Those odds are all longer shots than the Browns to win the division, but bets I could actually see being paid out as wins.