Every NFL division has a team (or teams in some cases) that is favored to win the division. A good amount of the time, the favored team does end up winning the division, but every year a team that is slept on rises to the moment and surprises everyone. I'm going to share who I think those potential teams can be this NFL season.
The Bills were a team that started hot last year but fizzled out when it mattered. Secondary issues and the loss of Fred Jackson due to injury ultimately were the demise of the team, along with inconsistent play from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. With a revamped defense premiering new additions Mario Williams and rookie Stephon Gilmore, the Bills defense can really cause some problems this year. The quarterback play will be the difference maker this year, Tarvaris Jackson being the Bills insurance in case things don't pan out with Fitzpatrick. Add in a full season from Fred Jackson and you got a legitimate playoff contender.
AFC North- Cincinnati Bengals
I know the Bengals made the playoffs last year, but with the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers still at large, they are far from a favorite to take the division. I firmly believe in Andy Dalton and A.J. Green's chemistry and think Green can reach elite status at the wide receiver position sooner than people think. If their defense can replicate the season they had last year, or improve, look for the Bengals to make another strong push for the playoffs.
AFC South- Tennessee Titans
The Titans are a team that have been stuck at a "good, but not good enough to contend" level for a few years. Their defense has always been solid, but offensively they've been inconsistent. The loss of pro bowler Cortland Finnegan will hurt the defense, but the addition of Kamerion Wimbley should help improve the pass rush. Chris Johnson should return to elite status with a full training camp and promising second year quarterback Jake Locker should see some improvement with veteran Matt Hasselbeck mentoring him. If Kenny Britt gets his head straight and stays healthy, this Titans offense can see its best days since Steve McNair and Eddie George were leading it.
AFC West- Oakland Raiders
The AFC West is easily the most up-in-the-air division in the NFL. Peyton Manning makes whatever team he plays for the favorite to win its division though. The passing of legendary owner and general manager Al Davis as well as the firing of coach Hue Jackson leads to a new regime for the Silver and Black, headed by new general manager Reggie McKenzie and head coach/Bronco's ex-defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. With proper discipline and consistent play from Carson Palmer and the defense, this team can be scary. A healthy Darren McFadden will be the x-factor to the team winning the division.
NFC East- Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have seen post-season blunders every year for quite some time. With the returning champion New York Giants and talent packed Philadelphia Eagles in their division, Dallas is going to have to finally play to the standard the NFC East holds. I expect career years from Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, as well as a vastly improved pass defense (which is an issue that has haunted them for years) with the additions of Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Claiborne.
NFC North- Chicago Bears
The addition of Brandon Marshall makes the Bears offense a potential nightmare for opposing defenses, especially when paired with Matt Forte in the run game. Jay Cutler should see a return to the promise he once showed if the offensive line can keep him protected, which it's looked like through the pre-season. As always, the Bears defense remains elite, led by future hall-of-famers Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers.
NFC South- Carolina Panthers
The NFC South is a division full of explosive offenses. The Panthers 1-2 punch with Cam Newton and Steve Smith is one of the most dangerous combinations in that division, paired with "Double Trouble" (running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart). With a healthy Jon Beason and promising rookie Luke Kuechly, the Panthers linebacking core has become one of the scariest in the NFL. Add Charles Johnson on the defensive line and you have some terror on that defense. If they can stay healthy, look for the Panthers to cause some serious upsets.
NFC West- Seattle Seahawks
Many people had no idea Seattle's defense was top 10 last season with rookie Brandon Browner being an interception leader. They are a young defense and I only see them getting better. Running back Marshawn Lynch is coming off a monster season and I expect him to pick up where he left off. The real question lies in rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who has the potential to be the best quarterback in the division this season. If so, this team can make a legit playoff run.