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Four Teams, One Amazing Logjam (AFC North Preview)

Previewing the AFC North entering the 2024 season

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished 6 days ago 4 min read

Since the 2020 season, the American Football Conference has seen an immense rise in stock. For the longest time, the AFC was the weaker of the two conferences by an immense margin. Now, the AFC is quite beastly. As last season showed us, the core of the conference's strength came from the AFC North. AFC North games have been quite fun to watch lately, especially in the 2023 season. All four teams remained in the race until Week 17, but even then, we saw a rarity. Every team in the AFC North finished with a winning record. Holy moley!

I sense a lot of amazing moments for the AFC North in 2024, as each team has their own storyline. Let's take a look, shall we?

Cincinnati Bengals (9-8)

Here's how crazy the 2023 standings were. 9-8 was good enough to win the NFC South and get an NFC Wild Card spot, but in the AFC North? Dead last. That's where the Cincinnati Bengals finished. I think they deserve some kudos for managing to finish with a winning record despite losing Joe Burrow for the rest of last season. The Bengals managed to stay in the hunt until they just couldn't do it anymore without their star QB. Even so, the Bengals managed to finish eighth in the entire AFC. Yeah, that's right. The entire AFC North represented half of the conference's top 50%.

While the health of a player is immensely hard to predict, I do sense Burrow having a healthier 2024. If that does happen, look out. The Bengals could make some serious noise with all hands on deck. Playoffs for sure. A division title? Well, who knows?

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-7)

The Pittsburgh Steelers always have fascinated me as a football fan. There's a way that they do things and a way that they climb up the standings that is just amazing. I know it's been a long time since they were last in the Super Bowl, and it's been a while since they were even close to one. The 2018 and 2019 seasons were disastrous, and a great 2020 season ended very badly for them. Despite all of that, the last three seasons have shown me that the resolve is still there for Pittsburgh. Two of those years have resulted in playoffs, and that includes 2023.

The Steelers have Mike Tomlin to thank for this. Tomlin is the best coach out of the 32 currently in the league. Under him, the Steelers defy the odds and somehow make it to postseason football. Now, they have Russell Wilson as their QB1, and on the Denver Broncos' dime at that! We'll see the Steelers in the playoffs again in 2024, and it'll be a little bit easier than last year.

Cleveland Browns (11-6)

The Cleveland Browns are a mystery wrapped in an enigma for sure, and they have been for many decades. They basically became a sideshow when they acquired Deshaun Watson...and gave him a Brinks truck full of money. Watson had to serve a very lengthy suspension during the 2022 season, and regarding last year, while he was the starter on opening week, he missed a lot of games and ended up out for the year by November. So out of a maximum 34 games, Deshaun Watson started just 12 for the Browns. Yikes.

Despite all of this, the Browns somehow made the playoffs despite starting four other QBs in Watson's place, as well as losing top runningback Nick Chubb for the season all the way back in Week 2. Even crazier, out of all of the QBs, it was Joe Flacco, who was probably in the league the last time the Browns won a division title, who led Cleveland to the playoffs. Now they were one and done, but given the circumstances, this was a very successful year for the Browns. The question is, can they duplicate it? If Nick Chubb returns for the Browns, it's a resounding yes. However, it's not really known if he'll be back, and then there's Watson, who is a shell of the QB he was in Houston. I would not be surprised if we see some regression from the Browns in 2024.

Baltimore Ravens (13-4)

Will 2024 see the Baltimore Ravens reach the Super Bowl? The odds of that have to be higher now, especially since the Ravens finally have a superstar running back: Derrick Henry. The man known as "King Henry" signed a two-year deal with the Ravens after playing his entire career with the Tennessee Titans, which actually included upsetting the top-seeded Ravens in the playoffs during the 2019 season.

Of course, the man of the hour is Lamar Jackson. He led the Ravens to the #1 seed and to the AFC Championship, but despite having the home field, the Ravens could not unseat the Kansas City Chiefs. Lamar did end up as the MVP for the 2023 season, and very well deserved. After all, he did what he had been doing for his entire career: carry the Ravens on his back. He may not have to this season. If King Henry still has his motor, there's a good chance that we may see the Ravens go deep again. Maybe they end up in New Orleans on the second Sunday in February?

* * *

What happened with the AFC North last season was extraordinary; the first time in nearly 90 years that an entire NFL division finished with winning records. I don't expect that again, but I do expect a hotly contested AFC North, with each of the four teams with a solid chance of finishing on top.

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About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also into film and TV, especially Simpsons and Family Guy.

Feel free to follow my social media:

Twitter - Facebook - Tiktok - Instagram

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Comments (1)

  • Philip Gipson6 days ago

    I wish to thank you for giving us another sports-related piece to enjoy reading.

Clyde E. DawkinsWritten by Clyde E. Dawkins

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