Is the AFC North the NFL’s best division
By Scott Long
With the Steelers and the other AFC North teams sitting above .500, the division is among the NFL’s best, but which truly is the best?
Entering the 2021 season, the AFC North was regarded as one of the stronger divisions in the NFL. However, with the Steelers remaining a strong team, and the Bengals exceeding their expectations, the division looks even more formidable than it did at the beginning of the season.
However, the AFC North is not the only division that features plenty of playoff-caliber teams. Both the AFC West and the NFC West also boast several serious playoff contenders. We will look into the arguments for each of these three teams as the best division in the NFL.
The argument for the AFC West
Going into this season this division was not looked down upon, but the Kansas City Chiefs were expected to run away with the division. However, that has not been the case as the Chiefs have remained a playoff contender, but it has become apparent that the rest of this division is much better than it was given credit for.
That is not to say the Chiefs have been bad as they are still sitting at 5-4, with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce all healthy. What makes this division scariest is that it’s been so dominant while the Chiefs are playing at a subpar level. If they can return to form, this division is even better than it already is.
Currently sitting in first place are the Los Angeles Chargers, who many touted as a dark horse contender in the AFC this season. With Justin Herbert under center, the Chargers look to have a bright future, and the team is set up to succeed now as well. Herbert is surrounded by weapons such as Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, and Mike Williams making their offense an extremely difficult unit to stop.
Pair that offense with a defense that features superstar talents like Joey Bosa and Derwin James and it’s easy to see why the Chargers have played to a 5-3 record thus far.
The Chargers are currently tied for first with the Las Vegas Raiders who have come as the biggest surprise in this division. Despite facing turmoil this season the team has a 5-3 record and looks to make the playoffs this year. Derek Carr is having one of his best seasons yet and has plenty of firepower on his offense including Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow, and Bryan Edwards.
However, the biggest surprise has been the team’s defense, which was one of the league’s worst last season. The unit has been led by an emerging superstar in Maxx Crosby, and a key addition of Yannick Ngakoue, to give the team a formidable unit on both sides of the ball.
What makes this division so strong is its depth, as the Denver Broncos are widely regarded as the division’s worst team and they are sitting at 5-4. With weapons such as Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, Javonte Williams, and Melvin Gordon, as well as talent on the defensive side of the ball, this division has no team to beat up on.