The Biggest Christmas Wish For Every AFC North Team In 2024

by Tyler Feinstein
Football Helmet 2

Last year the AFC North was by far the NFL’s strongest division in 2023. For the first time since 1935, every team in a division finished the season with a winning record. While a repeat of last season is unlikely, it isn’t far-fetched either. Every team in this division has at least a chance to make the playoffs. But if these teams want to take the next step and make a deep playoff run, these are the Christmas gifts they’ll need to ascend to the next level.

Baltimore Ravens: More Production Through The Air 

The Baltimore Ravens have always been a team that prides themselves on a vicious running game and a chippy defense and 2024 is no different. The addition of star free agent running back Derrick Henry will make an already punishing ground attack that much more destructive. But the passing game also shows promise.

Lamar Jackson is among the league’s best quarterbacks, but the lack of wide receiver support has held this team back from going further. 2024 looks to be a different story. Zay Flowers had an impressive rookie campaign, former first round pick Rashod Bateman aims to finally stay healthy this season and Nelson Agholor is a solid player in his own right. 2024 third round selection Devontez Walker will also make some contributions and could be Nelson Agholor’s replacement as the #3 wideout.

The pass defense needed some upgrades to make it further into the playoffs and the Ravens attacked the secondary heavily this offseason. Marlon Humphrey is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL but additional help was a must. Baltimore got that help by using the 30th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft on Clemson star cornerback Nate Wiggins and got a major steal in round 4 by selecting Iowa State stud cornerback TJ Tampa. Brandon Stephens will likely hold the #2 cornerback spot for now but don’t be surprised if Nate Wiggins or TJ Tampa take over that role.

Cincinnati Bengals: A Healthy Joe Burrow

Joe Burrow getting injured in week 10 pretty much put the Bengals 2023 season to rest. While backup QB Jake Browning did lead the Bengals to a respectable 4-3 finish, 9-8 in a monstrous AFC North wasn’t enough to make the playoffs. But 2024 looks to be a different story for the Cincinnati Bengals.

With a very well rounded roster, in addition to a healthy Joe Burrow, Cincinnati automatically launches Cincinnati into Super Bowl contention. The Bengals also made some sneaky upgrades to aid Joe Burrow as well. 

They beefed up the offensive line with the additions of free agent offensive tackle Trent Brown, along with drafting Georgia offensive tackle Amarius Mims with the 18th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft as a future successor. Mike Gesicki is a solid receiving threat down the seam at tight end as well.

As long as Joe can stay in two legs, the Cincinnati Bengals could easily go all the way next season in search of their first Lombardi Trophy. 

Cleveland Browns: Deshaun Watson Returns To Form

It’s all or nothing for Deshaun Watson this season. If the Cleveland Browns want a chance to go far in 2024, Deshaun Watson has to step up. General manager Andrew Barry paid a king’s ransom for Deshaun’s services and his production simply isn’t up to snuff. 

The Cleveland Browns have one of the NFL’s better all around offenses in the NFL for Deshaun Watson to succeed. Star running back Nick Chubb, who missed almost all of last season will be back at full power to lead one of the NFL’s scariest running games. Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore, and Jerry Jeudy give Deshaun a solid group of targets to throw to. Tight end David Njoku can also do some damage down the middle of the field. The offensive line is also among the NFL’s elite in most facets.

If Deshaun Watson can finally return to his former star self like what he was with the Houston Texans, the Cleveland Browns will be a very dangerous club that can do some major damage.

Pittsburgh Steelers: A Competent Offense

Defense hasn’t been the issue in Pittsburgh for a long time. Headlined by Defensive Player of the Year winner TJ Watt, elite safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and a slew of other high quality contributors, the Steelers will once again have one of pro football’s strongest defenses. But you can’t win with one side of the ball. The offense has to take a huge leap if this team wants to take the next step. 

New offensive coordinator Arthur Smith will look to resurrect the career of Russell Wilson who flamed out in Denver and was cut as a result. Offensive line was a major problem for Pittsburgh this past season and made a priority to fix it through drafting Washington offensive tackle Troy Fautanu in round 1 and West Virginia center Zach Frazier in round 2. Starting running back Najee Harris gives Russell Wilson a nice weapon to work with in the run game but the cupboard on the perimeter isn’t barren either.

 Rising star wide receiver George Pickens is likely to be a major threat through the air this season. 2024 third round pick Roman Wilson will also likely get a lot of targets for a rookie. Emerging tight end Pat Friermuth could make a major leap in year 3 as well.

The pieces are there for an offense capable of being a formidable group. It will ultimately be up to new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and quarterback Russell Wilson to get the most out of this unit. 

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