The landscape in the NFL is in constant change. With another offseason behind us as teams begin Training Camp, we begin to make our standings predictions and even go as far as trying to make our call as t0 who will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy come February. While that’s all good and dandy, here we take a look at the current state of the NFL from a divisional standpoint. Which division is the best in football? A commonly brought up topic that really doesn’t have a right answer. I’m going to rank them in the order I believe is true to form based on overall talent of teams.
1. NFC West: When your division has two legit title contenders you are going to be at the top. The NFC West is stacked with stunning defenses and young stars. Arizona is the cream of the crop in the West, a top tier defense, a veteran quarterback with weapons a plenty. Let’s not forget they have one of the best coaches in the league too. Seattle is right up there with Zona also having a great defense and on the offensive end having a young quarterback who can take over any game on his own. The Rams and 49ers aren’t making noise yet but LA has a nasty defense and a workhorse running back in Gurley who is only going to be in his second year. Carlos Hyde and DeForest Buckner might be the only bright spots on a down ‘Niners squad; but they can only get better, right?
2. AFC West: The defending champs lost an all-time great quarterback, and his backup. However, they are still big time contenders with the defense and receiving core they possess, and they may not even be the best team in the AFC West. There are a couple things that come to mind when you think of Kansas City and they are Jamaal Charles, that solid defense and barbecue. Charles is coming off an injury, but West and Ware both showed they are more than capable backups. The Raiders are a team on the rise and while I think they are still a year or two away, they are capable of winning any game with the AC/DC combo that are still growing as players. San Diego had a down year last year but don’t expect that to happen again, Rivers and Allen should have big years and Gordon can’t really go another year without scoring a touchdown, I think…
3. AFC North: The Bengals and Steelers are continuously making the playoffs, but Cincy just can’t get over the hump. They seem to lack the discipline to win when it matters the most and I don’t see a change in the near future, but another division title will be a good consolation prize. If Pittsburgh can keep their guys on the field and off the ESPN Bottomline they could potentially be one of the best offenses we’ve ever seen. The defense, while young is on track the be what we expect from a tough Steelers defense year in and year out as well. The Ravens should have a better year, if they can have half the injuries they had last year that could be a 3 win jump right there. The black sheep of the division just got great news with Gordon being able to return Week 5, please don’t screw this up Josh.
4. NFC North: With the return of Jordy Nelson, the Packers might not just be the best team in the NFC North but in the whole league. Giving the best quarterback his go to guy back for the season already has teams game planning for a much better Packer passing attack. The Vikings and Lions while both should have good years they are missing some crucial pieces – the playoffs might be the reachable goal for the two teams. The Lions run game should improve with the offensive line getting better. Minnesota has a furious defense but with Teddy at the quarterback it makes it impossible to make a comeback. The Bears are at the bottom of the North but that’s not terrible for it being a solid division. I really like Cutler to get some of the hate off his name, until he has one bad game and the Chicago faithful turns on him.
5. NFC South: Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly and the Panthers are the clear favorite in the NFC South, but the rest of the division is has some of the most ecstatic players in the NFL. With Drew Brees leading the way in New Orleans it’s hard to count the Saints out any year. On the rise down south, the Buccaneers have so much potential and are a legit playoff threat this season. Julio Jones is the only player that is trustworthy down in the ATL. Matt Ryan continues to deteriorate late in the year, there is no reason to think he will change that with the rest of the division improving this year.
6. AFC East: No Tom Brady for the first four games shouldn’t hurt the postseason chances for the Patriots, they always find a way to take the air out of the AFC East. The Jets and Bills both give me hope every year that it could be their year, but they just fall flat not having a true quarterback. Both teams have very nice defenses that will make the season interesting and New York has the two headed receiving duo of Marshall and Decker that score touchdowns at will. Miami seems to be stuck in limbo but could be on the up and up this year since they made some big moves like signing Mario Williams and drafting the controversial Tunsil out of Ole Miss.
7. NFC East: The NFC East has become one of the better offenseive divisions when healthy. The Giants and Redskins have good quarterbacks and both boast great wide reciever groups. The Giants are the team that no one wants to see in the playoffs because they just don’t seem to lose when they get in. Washington could slip a little this year but a playoff spot isn’t out of the question. A healthy Tony Romo is the only thing that matters in Dallas as he is the engine that moves the vehicle. A healthy Dez also matters, so retract that last statement. Philly is in rebuild mode but can make some noise, this division is down right silly as there is no team that is a lock for the second season.
8. AFC South: If I were to do this same article in two years, the AFC South could be the toughest of all the divisions. Luck, Bortles, Mariota and Osweiler are all young QB’s that could be great for years to come. Houston is the most complete team for now with a solid defense and an upgraded wideout group to take some pressure off of Hopkins. I almost forgot, Lamar Miller is going to have a BIG year. Indianapolis will be back to being a playoff threat this season with a healthy Andrew Luck. He can keep the Colts in any game by himself with his big arm and mobility. In Jacksonville they are a year away from being something scary, Robinson and Hurns are two big receivers who are going to be hard to stop for many years. The defense improved vastly also with a great draft this year. Tennessee is going to be frustrating but shouldn’t see as many blowouts this year. They will be near the top of the draft again but sometimes that’s what’s best for a team in rebuild mode.