1. Houston Texans
The Houston Texans did it, they won the division and made the playoffs in 2023 against all odds. There was a reason to believe that they were headed in the right direction with head coach DeMeco Ryans and rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud leading the way. However, it was a bit surprising to see them right the ship in such a short period. In retrospect, getting rid of vice president of football operations Jack Easterby in 2022 is the best move the Texans could've made.
Easterby had a penchant for meddling in football decisions, which prevented general manager Nick Caserio from performing his duties to the best of his capabilities. Without Easterby's meddling presence, Caserio managed to restock the roster with several building blocks. In free agency, he signed tight end Dalton Schultz, running back Devin Singletary, and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. He also nailed the 2023 draft class, selecting Tank Dell, Will Anderson Jr., and Henry To'oTo'o.
But the cherry on the top was without a doubt drafting C.J. Stroud second overall. Now, the Texans are set at the quarterback position for years to come. Right off the bat, the former Ohio State Buckeye proved he belonged in the NFL, completing 63.9 percent of his passes for 4,108 yards with 23 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Stroud should keep getting better in 2024, and the Texans will be able to continue to build around him. They're set to have the fourth-most cap space in the league and two first-round picks. They're currently the crème de la crème in the AFC South and the Jaguars have their work cut out if they want to keep up with them.