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Tony Jefferson: Browns still have to come take the AFC North from us

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 31: Strong Safety Tony Jefferson #23 of the Baltimore Ravens reacts after a play in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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After making a trade for Odell Beckham while the Ravens were saying goodbye to several top defensive players, the Browns have been installed as the betting favorites to win the AFC North in 2019.

One holdover on the Ravens defense thinks that may be putting the cart before the horse. Safety Tony Jefferson acknowledges that the Beckham trade is “humongous” given the presence of quarterback Baker Mayfield and other offensive pieces, but notes that other teams have gotten plenty of preseason attention before fizzling out once the lights come on.

“But we’re still defending the title. So until then it’s just he say, she say, it’s Madden,” Jefferson said on NFL Network. “Until then you got to come strip the title from us. That’s just what it is. I feel like everybody does this every year, not specifically Cleveland or AFC North. There’s usually a team somewhere, I feel like everybody last year was talking about the Vikings. I don’t know if they made the playoffs or not. It’s just another situation like that to me. ... You can sleep if you want, but we’re going to be out there playing ball, and let the cards come out how they do. We work a little harder, lift a little harder, run a little harder out there. So I’m excited.”

The Ravens got counted out by quite a few people before rallying to win the division last year. Whether people do the same heading into this season or not, things will ultimately be settled between the lines.