Despite the Steelers being locked into the toughest schedule in the NFL for the 2015 season, odds-makers still like the Steelers to be the class of the AFC North next season.
Pittsburgh will open the 2015 with a 9.5 expected win total. In gambling, the expected win total is how bettors gauge their bets, so betting either over (such as 11 wins) or under (seven wins) will determine how much of a payout is received. The 9.5 expected wins is tied with the Ravens for the AFC North lead, and Sports Book Review, the organization who determined the spread, suggests the Ravens and Steelers will pose the biggest threat to dethroning the New England Patriots as kings of the AFC.
Last season, SBR pegged the Steelers with an 8.5 win total, which Pittsburgh exceeded by winning 11 games and the AFC North title on their way to the team's first playoff appearance since 2011.
Don't expect the AFC North to carry three playoff teams again, as arguably the toughest division in football will play their 2015 slate of games against the NFC West and AFC West, two divisions also considered to be among the best in the league. The AFC West is home to the prolific Denver Broncos while both the Chiefs and Chargers posted winning record, and the NFC West plays host to four formidable foes, including the NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks. The Browns and Bengals open the season with a 6.0 and 8.5 posted win total, respectively.