4. Cincinnati Bengals could be the bounce-back candidate over in the AFC
I don't know if they are going to win the division next year, but the Cincinnati Bengals are a fantastic candidate to go worst-to-first in the AFC North in 2024. Admittedly, they did not lose the AFC North by much, as the Bengals were in playoff contention until the very end of the season. Unfortunately, they did lose offensive coordinator Brian Callahan to the Tennessee Titans, but Joe Burrow is back!
As long as Burrow is healthy and Lou Anarumo can dial up consistent pressure from his defense, I could totally see the Bengals winning around 11 games and making the playoffs once again. They are the one team that I think measures up with the Chiefs the best in the deep AFC. Again, it all comes down to when and where they would or could meet in the playoffs, but I do like the Bengals' chances.
With a softer, fourth-place schedule when compared to the rest of the serious AFC contenders, I would expect for the Bengals to have several advantages going their way next season. Again, it is quite a hill to climb after falling off near the top of the mountain two years ago, but if any team in the AFC is equipped to be playing in the AFC Champion not named Kansas City next year, it is Cincinnati.
Had the Bengals not had a challenging year last season, I would have had them as the No. 1 option.