Many of us would consider the NFC West, with juggernauts San Francisco and Seattle, the best division in modern football.
And that may very well be true.
However, people sometimes forget that it is the AFC North that repeatedly puts a team, and indeed sometimes more than one per year, deep into the playoffs.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens have been known for much of the last decade to be the elite AFC teams to face in any given week.
However, in the past few years, the Cincinnati Bengals have become quite relevant, and especially recently, as the team has captured two straight Wild Card playoff berths.
Even the Browns are beginning to turn their franchise around, as no team can look at their schedule and count a game against Cleveland as a win before it happens any more.
All four teams rely on strong defensive numbers, and tough all-around play every week to grab wins each season.
And then there’s the divisional games, where two AFC North teams line up on opposite sides of the ball, and go nose-to-nose every play. It doesn’t matter the record for either team that year. They are going to give it their all every down, and the fans come expecting, relishing the bad blood. Call it a legal street fight at times. With helmets and uniforms.
As far as the fans, never have I seen such hardcore, determined, and true fans to any one team. Whether it’s the Browns or the Steelers, the Bengals or the Ravens, both trash talk and team support is always at an all-time high, in good times or bad.
So the last decade may have brought about some good play from the NFC West. However, the AFC North will always be one of the grittiest divisions in football. And with that comes some of the best games, and some of the best fans in the NFL.