Prognosticating which division is going to be the best in the NFL heading into the season is a tough chore, yet it was clear the best division last season was the AFC North. The only division where every team finished over .500 since the 1935 NFL West, the AFC North lapped the field in 2023.

Will that be the case in 2024? The AFC North still has two of the league's powerhouse teams in the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals (who actually finished last in the division last season). Other divisions are slowly catching the AFC North based on moves made in free agency and the draft, making the race for the NFL's best division even more intriguing heading into 2024. 

Who are a biggest challengers to the AFC North? What divisions aren't expected to be good this season? 

1. AFC North

  • 2023 combined record: 43-25

This division is still the best in football, just based on three teams making the playoffs and the only division with three teams having 10+ wins. The Ravens lost a few key players on the defensive side of the ball (Geno Stone, Jadeveon Clowney, Patrick Queen), but added Derrick Henry to a roster that won 13 games. 

The Bengals got Joe Burrow back, the Browns have the majority of their roster intact, and the Steelers revamped their roster with Russell Wilson, Justin Fields, Patrick Queen and Donte Jackson in free agency. Pittsburgh also had an impressive draft class, revamping the offensive line with Troy Fautanu and Zach Frazier as the top two picks and adding linebacker Payton Wilson in the third round. 

The AFC North will be a battle all season, as the division winner remains one of the biggest wild cards in the league. 

2. NFC North

  • 2023 combined record: 35-33

The rise of the Lions and Packers certainly boasted this division last season, with Detroit reaching the NFC Championship Game and Green Bay becoming the first No. 7 seed to beat a No. 2 seed in the postseason. Detroit added Carlton Davis, Marcus Davenport and D.J. Reader in free agency while replenishing at cornerback in the draft (Terrion Arnold, Ennis Rakestraw Jr.). Green Bay replenished at safety with Xavier McKinney (free agency) and Javon Bullard (draft) while signing Josh Jacobs

The Bears and Vikings have rookie quarterbacks with Caleb Williams and J.J. McCarthy, yet are positioned to take a leap forward in 2024. Chicago added D'Andre Swift and Keenan Allen in free agency, then selected Rome Odunze in the top 10 of the draft to pair with Williams. McCarthy has a skill position group that has Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison at wide receiver, T.J. Hockenson at tight end and free agent signing Aaron Jones at running back. 

The NFC North could compete with the AFC North for the best division. It depends on how the Bears and Vikings progress. 

3. AFC South

  • 2023 combined record: 34-34

The Texans being the surprise division winner surely raised the prestige of the AFC South. Doesn't hurt they have a franchise quarterback in C.J. Stroud and added offensive weapons for him in Stefon Diggs and Joe Mixon. Signing Danielle Hunter and Azeez Al-Shaair on defense also helped. 

The Jaguars are trying to avenge last season's collapse and have Trevor Lawrence take the next step, adding Brian Thomas Jr. in the draft and Gabe Davis in free agency as part of their wide receiver revamp. The Colts get Anthony Richardson back after just missing the playoffs, adding Adonai Mitchell to pair with Michael Pittman at wide receiver. Laiatu Latu could also be the best pass rusher in the draft. The Titans should be better after an active free agency period with the additions of Calvin Ridley, Tyler Boyd, Tony Pollard and Lloyd Cushenberry

Houston will be challenged in this division, but it will be interesting to see how Jacksonville responds after last season's collapse. This was one of three divisions where three teams had 9-plus wins last season. 

4. AFC East

  • 2023 combined record: 33-35

The strength of this division comes down to Aaron Rodgers' health, as the Jets were clearly impacted just four plays into the season when Rodgers was lost for the year with a ruptured Achilles. New York continued the "all-in" mentality with its offseason additions, namely Mike Williams, Tyron Smith, Haason Reddick and Javon Kinlaw. OT Olu Fashanu, WR Malachi Corley and RB Braelon Allen are also intriguing draft picks.

The Bills are the most intriguing team based on their offseason departures, but Keon Coleman and Curtis Samuel will be under the microscope as pass-catchers for Josh Allen (still one of the game's best quarterbacks). The Dolphins still have their explosive offense (now with Odell Beckham Jr.) and added Jaylen Wright with De'Von Achane and Raheem Mostert at running back.

The Patriots are rebuilding with Drake Maye and a new head coach in Jerod Mayo, so this division may be affected. The Jets could counter that. 

5. NFC West

  • 2023 combined record: 35-33

The division that houses the NFC champions was competitive last season, as the 49ers and Rams each won 10-plus games. The NFC West was the only division in the NFC that housed three teams with winning records. The 49ers should still be excellent with Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk -- while also adding Ricky Pearsall to that strong cast of offensive playmakers. Adding Leonard Floyd in free agency was a good addition to a strong pass rush. 

The Rams lost Aaron Donald to retirement, but added Jared Verse, Braden Fiske and Blake Corum in the draft. Their success also relies on Matthew Stafford staying upright for the majority of the season. The Seahawks have a new head coach in Mike Macdonald, and it will be interesting to see if he can improve a 9-8 team in year one with his defensive scheme (added Byron Murphy II in the draft). The Cardinals are still rebuilding, but Marvin Harrison Jr. was arguably the best player in the draft. EDGE Darius Robinson and CB Max Melton should also significantly help their defense.

Let's see where this division stands at the end of the year. 

6. NFC East

  • 2023 combined record: 33-35

The division hasn't had a repeat winner in 19 years, so that's not great news for the Cowboys. Dallas hasn't added much in free agency, bringing back Ezekiel Elliott and bringing in Eric Kendricks. Tyler Guyton and Cooper Beebe help the offensive line.

The Eagles were active in free agency and the draft, adding RB Saquon Barkley, EDGE Bryce Huff, and S C.J. Gardner-Johnson in March while selecting CBs Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean with their first two picks in the draft. The Commanders are rebuilding with QB Jayden Daniels and altering their defense with free agent signings such as LB Frankie Luvu and Bobby Wagner, EDGE Dorance Armstrong and S and Jeremy Chinn. They also added DL Jer'Zhan Newton and CB Mike Sainristil in the draft. 

Meanwhile, the Giants are figuring out their future with Daniel Jones. New York still added Brian Burns via trade and revamped the offensive line with Jon Runyan Jr. and Jermaine Eluemunor. Malik Nabers should be a playmaker at wide receiver immediately. 

The NFC East appears to be on the upswing. How the Commanders and Giants progress will determine if this division can get back to being one of the best in the NFL

7. AFC West

  • 2023 combined record: 32-36

The Chiefs are the two-time defending Super Bowl champions and the class of the NFL. As for the rest of the division, well, it's rebuilding.

Kansas City added Marquise Brown in free agency and Xavier Worthy in the draft, improving the pass-catchers for Patrick Mahomes. The Raiders still have a quarterback situation to work out, but added Brock Bowers in the draft to pair with Davante Adams as pass-catchers. Christian Wilkins will be a massive addition to free up Maxx Crosby on the edge.

The Broncos may have the worst quarterback situation in the NFL as they're rebuilding, while the Chargers are looking to get back to the playoffs with Jim Harbaugh as head coach. J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are the new running backs, while Joe Alt (first-round pick) will be protecting Justin Herbert

All three teams that aren't the Chiefs are essentially hitting the reset button. The AFC West underwent plenty of changes, while the Chiefs remain on top. 

8. NFC South

  • 2023 combined record: 27-41

The NFC South was the only division that didn't have a 10-win division champion, even though the Buccaneers made the divisional round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay kept the core of Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans together, retained Lavonte David and Antoine Winfield Jr. and brought back Jordan Whitehead. They should be a threat to repeat in a poor division. 

The Falcons getting better significantly helps the NFC South, starting with the addition of Kirk Cousins at quarterback. Cousins also has pass-catching additions in Darnell Mooney and Rondale Moore. Atlanta should put up points with its offensive line protecting Cousins and Bijan Robinson carrying the football. 

The Saints always appear to be in a state of limbo, even though OT Taliese Fuaga and CB Kool-Aid McKinstry as their top two draft picks should help. LB Willie Gay Jr. is an underrated free agent signing. The Panthers were the worst team in the league last season, so they're banking on new head coach Dave Canales to fix up Bryce Young. Adding Diontae Johnson in free agency and Xavier Legette in the draft should help Young in the pass game. 

This division could improve based on how the Falcons fare. If anything, it should be competitive.