Predicting AFC North standings after 2024 NFL schedule release

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens
Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

You may think that late May begins the start of the slower portion of the NFL calendar. The draft is (thankfully) done, and the only thing standing between us and some much-appreciated summer weeks without constant news is a few silly weeks of OTAs. BUT where you see a boring couple months, we see an opportunity to *create* *more* *content*.

For instance, have you considered how the AFC North looks now that the schedule has been revealed? Have you considered the seismic change that's taken place now that we know the order and times of all the games? It's honestly insane that everyone takes a break from football during the summer months when there's this much to talk about. Not us, though. So here are some predictions on the AFC North standings after 2024 NFL schedule release.

Predicting AFC North standings after 2024 NFL schedule release



1. Baltimore Ravens


2. Cincinnati Bengals


3. Cleveland Browns


4. Pittsburgh Steelers


1. Baltimore Ravens (12-5)

They're the (division) champs until they're not. Any team with Lamar Jackson's going to be competitive, and even though they lost some key pieces from last year's historically good defense, my bet is that somehow the *Baltimore Ravens* figure out how to still play well there. Nate Wiggins and Roger Rosengarten – their first two picks in the draft – figure to have impact roles immediately, and, oh yeah, they signed Derrick Henry. I could see a world where a healthy Bengals team challenges them all year, but the Ravens will be fine.

2. Cincinnati Bengals (11-6)

And speaking of healthy Bengals teams, that's the only major question in Cincy this season. (It's not, but you get what I'm saying.) If Joe Burrow gets through 17 games, the Bengals are going to push for a division title. That's the big 'if', though – through four years of being QB1 in Cincinnati, Burrow's only made it past 10 games twice. The defense and the offensive line look kinda meh right now, but Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins – if the latter doesn't get traded – will still be more than enough. Seeing how they play without Brian Callahan, who left for the head job in Tennessee this offseason, will be the most interesting storyline of the first few weeks.

3. Cleveland Browns (9-8)

The good news is that they'll have a defense worthy of the AFC North. They've got capital-g guys at every level: Myles Garrett, Za'Darius Smith, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Jordan Hicks, and Grant Delpit are all above average players who give the Browns one of the best defensive cores in football. The problem is that their offense doesn't look like it improved a whole bunch over the offseason – unless you're one of the 14 people that still believes in Jerry Jeudy – and their extremely expensive franchise QB can't stay healthy (or productive). Maybe a great defense and a handful of Jameis Winston cameos is enough to sneak into a Wild Card, but that's still a pretty bleak outlook.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-10)

I'll admit: it feels dumb predicting that Mike Tomlin will have a losing season. It hasn't happened almost two decades, and last year he pulled it off with Kenny Pickett/Mason Randolph playing QB. Neither of them are thrilling options, but both Russell Wilson and Justin Fields are better options than last year, which would, in theory, mean that a 10-win season is the floor of where expectations should start. Still, going back and forth between Wilson and Fields has disaster written all over it, and eventually Tomlin's going to finish under .500. (Right??) Given the relative strength of everyone else in the division, this feels like the year.