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A ‘too early’ set of predictions sees Bengals winning it all next year

The National Football League season features 17 games per team. Image via NFL
The National Football League season features 17 games per team. Image via NFL

Is it too early to make NFL 2024 predictions? Yes. But can I resist the urge to do so? No. So here are some way-too-early predictions for the NFL’s 2024 Division Winners.

AFC East: Buffalo Bills

Buffalo has been determined as this division’s winner not because the Bills are necessarily excellent, but because of the process of elimination. The New England Patriots are still in rebuild mode, and likely won’t win more than eight games. The Jets will likely finish second, but are still the Jets. And – here’s the hot take – Mike McDaniel is not a great coach. As the end of last season and the first-round loss to Kansas City showed, McDaniel’s Dolphins seem to fold under pressure. When conditions are perfect and in their favor, Miami is in the driver’s seat; but when that isn’t so, they fail to adjust.

And so Buffalo emerges from this tattered fray, simply by virtue of being the most consistent team with the best quarterback and overall roster. Don’t expect a Super Bowl from these Bills, but expect them to take the East.

Division ranking prediction: Bills in first, then the Jets, Dolphins, and finally the Patriots.

Expect Jim Harbaugh to cook. The new head coach is bringing a winning culture to a richly rostered team, and he has already vowed to take down the Chiefs dynasty.

AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals 

2024 will be Joe Burrow’s comeback year. His career is far from over, and he will return from his bungled, injury-ridden 2023 season with a vengeance. As one of the most poised and consistent QBs in the NFL, he will help the Bengals overpower opponents, with or without WR Tee Higgins. Expect them to be a real threat come playoff time.

Division ranking prediction: Bengals in first, then the Ravens, Browns, and finally the Steelers.

AFC Wst: Los Angeles Chargers

Expect Jim Harbaugh to cook. The new head coach is bringing a winning culture to a richly rostered team, and he has already vowed to take down the Chiefs dynasty. The Chargers will sweep the Broncos, split the Raiders, and split the Chiefs, while going 7-4 against their remaining opponents. With offensive stars like QB Justin Herbert and WR Keenan Allen, plus a defense anchored by Joey Bosa, the Bolts will be far more dangerous than last season’s 5-12 record suggests.

Division ranking prediction: Chargers in first, then the Chiefs, Broncos, and finally the Raiders.

AFC South: Houston Texans

Stroud. Collins. Dell. The passing game in Houston is insane, and the defense is incredibly effective at limiting yards after catch. The Texans are a strong football outfit, going into the offseason with almost no baggage and plenty of momentum. Last season showed this Houston team that they could go far; so this year, they will be going for it all.

Division ranking prediction: Texans in first, then the Jaguars, Colts, and finally the Titans.

NFC East: Washington Commanders

With the 2nd overall pick, the Commanders are set to arm themselves with a strong rookie QB. They already have an elite receiver in Terry McLaurin, and they certainly have a shot at carving their way through a division of tangled emotions and expectations. The Eagles just crashed and burned; the Giants are a mess; the Cowboys have an excellent roster, but frustration over early playoff exits has likely permeated that building. In short, Washington will be the sleeper team of 2024.

Division ranking prediction: Commanders in first, then the Cowboys, Giants, and finally the Eagles.

NFC North: Green Bay Packers

The Packers are a young, fun team that simultaneously has nothing to lose and nothing to prove. The Lions will have immense pressure to overcome after falling short this year. The Bears will likely finish second or third, but simply don’t have the roster power they need. The Vikings, who may lose Kirk Cousins, will likely finish last in the division as a hot mess. In short: whether you Love it or not, you gotta say “Go, Pack, Go!”

Division ranking prediction: Packers in first, then the Bears, Lions, and finally the Vikings.

NFC West: San Francisco 49ers

The Niners are still excellent, as is Brock Purdy. Almost all of their 2023 personnel are returning, and they will be more determined than anyone to make another championship push after their 25-22 loss in Super Bowl LVIII.

Division ranking prediction: 49ers in first, then the Rams, Cardinals, and finally the Seahawks.

NFC South: New Orleans Saints

Derek Carr might be on the rebound. If his Week 17 showing has anything to say about it, the QB could lead his team to a division title. The Panthers will improve, likely accruing five or six wins. The Falcons will be okay. But expect the Bucs’ magic to fade, as the Saints take their rightful place atop this weak division.

Division ranking prediction: Saints in first, then the Falcons, Buccaneers, and finally the Panthers.

But now for the most interesting part. Who will appear in next year’s Super Bowl? My prediction: Bengals vs. 49ers.

Why? Because Joe Burrow and the Bengals have unfinished business, as do the 49ers. These teams have “big game” history – the 49ers defeated Cincinnati twice in the 1980s – so expect this to be an explosive matchup of offensive fireworks in the Big Easy. 

The Bengals will win that game, 24 – 21. Joe Burrow will be named Super Bowl MVP.

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About the Contributor
Kevin Hutchinson
Kevin Hutchinson, Staff Writer
Senior Kevin Hutchinson is a third-year staff writer. He enjoys following politics, watching football, and spending time with his girlfriend. 
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