There are always divisions that stand out among the rest. Some send multiple teams to the playoffs while others barely have a standout team. The AFC is stacked with young talent that continues to get better and better. Here, we rank the 4 divisions based on competitiveness and the strength of all 4 teams. The past history of the team is not taken into consideration for this ranking (like a team’s past Super Bowl win).
#1 – AFC North
Remember when this division was hyped up to be the most stacked division? Well, it didn’t live up to that one bit. Instead, we got an injured Big Ben, a Bengals team that hit rock bottom, Lamar Jackson running circles around defenders, and a Browns team who did what the Browns do best: be the Browns. The Ravens look to build on the impressive season they posted last year and hope to get past the Divisional round. The defense will be good once again because they always seem to have a solid defense.
Pittsburgh gets back Big Ben and if he’s healthy, then they’ll certainly be chasing the Ravens all year. Cincinnati gets Joe Burrow, who lit up the SEC but will need time to adjust to the NFL. However, they did get their franchise quarterback and will build around him to be competitors in the future.
The Browns were disappointing in 2019 and look to rebound in 2020 (I feel like we say this every year about them). All the stars are there for them to succeed and they’ll have to look at Baker Mayfield closely. It’s going to be a division that gets a lot of attention this year, and if it pans out as projected, it could be the most entertaining to watch in 2020.
#2 – AFC West
This division is possibly the new AFC East. The Chiefs are essentially the new Patriots in the NFL. They have the unstoppable and electric Patrick Mahomes, who can be the next Tom Brady but more mobile. This team is probably the only one that is a shoo-in for the playoffs for years to come. On top of that, there really isn’t any other contender for the division crown. The division is filled with rising talent, but Kansas City is on a whole other level.
Up next, you have the Denver Broncos. They might be the only team that could keep pace with the Chiefs this year, but they’re not good enough to take the division away. Drew Lock could prove to be the real deal in 2020 as he has the supporting cast to do so in Melvin Gordon, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler. If he steps up, the Broncos could be in the playoff race all year and could find themselves in a Wild Card spot.
The Raiders continue to put the puzzle together, but this year is when they find out if Derek Carr is the last piece of the puzzle. Jon Gruden is a good coach, but now it’s time to reevaluate the quarterback position. I’m not too confident in the Chargers because of the state of the team. They find themselves with a good defense, but an offense that’s in a rebuilding stage. Tyrod Taylor is a solid quarterback, but he’s not one to lead a team to the postseason. The offense is banged up and seems to be aging. We also might see what Justin Herbert is all about.
#3 – AFC South
The AFC is always decided by one or two games; it’s really just a fact at this point. Yes, it leaves for entertaining and nail-biting finishes to the regular season, but there is no “standout” team. The Texans seem to be trading away all of their stars for $5 off coupons and McDonald’s Happy Meals. Nobody knows what Bill O’Brien has in plan for the team. It’s still mindblowing how he didn’t get a 1st round draft pick for DeAndre Hopkins, but it is what it is, I guess.
Led by Derrick Henry, the Titans are coming off their Cinderella run, but it might get to the point where they rely on him too much until he’s run into the ground. Ryan Tannehill also revived his career and took over for a down-sloping Marcus Mariota. Hopefully, the latter can get back on track in Las Vegas.
Indianapolis comes into the season with a new quarterback in Philip Rivers and a new defensive lineman in DeForest Buckner. They have a roster to win, even though Rivers might only have 1 or 2 years left in him. It was hard for this team to bounce back after the shocking retirement of Andrew Luck. For the Jaguars, they’ll remain at the bottom of the division this year. The rebuild will continue and the majority will be fighting for their jobs if the team doesn’t show progress in 2020.
#4 – AFC East
This was the Patriots division to win each year, but with the departure of Tom Brady, this division lines up to be the worst in the NFL. Currently, the Bills are the early favorites to take the division crown after keeping pace with New England all of last year. Josh Allen is proving to be a solid quarterback and will get help from Stefon Diggs. The New York Jets are in contention to be the second-best team along with the Patriots, but the coaching in New England is much better.
Sam Darnold is a good quarterback, but I’m still skeptical about the coaching staff. For the Dolphins, they’ll continue their rebuild and likely won’t be in the playoff race. As long as Tua Tagovailoa gets playing time this upcoming year and finds comfort with the system, they will be in the playoff hunt soon. It’s going to be a more unpredictable year for the AFC East because there is no “guaranteed winner” anymore. They’re too young and inexperienced for me to put them any higher. There’s still the same heated rivalries, it’s just not going to be as entertaining as it was with Brady out.