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The strength of each NFL division, ranked

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Super Bowl teams on opposite ends of the spectrum

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Time to ruffle some feathers. I am doing a very early rankings of the 2020 NFL Divisions. I’m not doing this from JUST the quarterback or JUST the point scoring capabilities, I’m going all in to look at defensive powers, line capabilities and who knows, maybe I’ll even give some cadence to special teams. I am NOT giving any credence to travel/schedule in this, I know that NFC West teams have the worst travel schedule and AFC North has the best, that doesn’t factor into this.

In dead last I rank….

8. AFC West

Strengths: Super Bowl Winning Patrick Mahommes and the Kansas City Chiefs for starters. The Chiefs have the quarterback, the running game and receivers not to mention a defense who allowed the 7th fewest points last season. Denver was top 10 in fewest points allowed on defense and Los Angeles was top 10 in fewest yards allowed on defense. The Chargers addition of Bryan Bulaga was a BIG need, they do have a very strong pass defense as well. Oakland/Las Vagas bringing in two line backers (Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski) gives them a lethal set to help on defense. Newly acquired Carl Nassib will also help them on edge.

Weaknesses: Is it insensitive to say this division is the Chiefs at 1, 2 and 3 and then the other three teams at number 4? Three out of the four teams in this division had losing records last season. The net points for vs. points against in this league even factoring in the Chiefs + 143 point differential was a -5 (that’s right, the other three teams went a combined -148). The 5-11 Chargers lost Philip Rivers and now rely on Tyrod Taylor or Justin Herbert to lead the way. I don’t feel overtly confident in Drew Lock nor quite honestly do I have a large set of confidence in Derek Carr at this point. The Chargers were 31st in pass blocking last season.

7. NFC East

Strengths: The Eagles and Cowboys know the importance of a strong offensive line. Both teams finished in the top 5 in PFF in offensive line gradings last year. They didn’t lose much from that solid set. Dallas arguably underperformed last year and should be on the rise this year. The Eagles secondary will be bolstered with the addition of Darius Slay. Jason Hargrove gives the Eagles a needed punch on the line.

Weaknesses: A 4-12 New York Giants with a relatively new quarterback doesn’t instill a ton of faith in me, neither does a Washington Redskins team with a new coach and uncertainty at quarterback who finished 2nd to last in the league in yards and dead last in points scored. This was the only division in the league without a 10 win team last year. Washington and New York had bottom 10 defensese last year in yardage and points allowed. #2 overall draft pick Chase Young can help that a bit for Washington as can Xavier McKinney with the Giants but not nearly enough to offset the hole they are in. There also seems to be a health bug among this division almost more so than other divisions. Last year they saw (arguably) the divisions currently best quarterback play his 2nd full season of health in four years (only leading to a 9-7 season) while one of the best running backs in the league (Saquon Barkley) went out with injury and Washington went through a handful of quarterback with injuries.

6. AFC East

Strengths: The Patriots and Bills have two of the best coverage defenses at 2019 year end according to Pro Football Focus. The Bills had one of the biggest hauls in the offseason with Stefon Diggs, Vernon Butler, Quinton Jefferson and Josh Norman. The Bills will need Josh Norman to return to 2018 form given how porous their secondary was last year. Even without Brady, I still trust in Bill Belichick to have the Patriots team ready to go this year with a strong defense and robust game plans. Miami didn’t really lose anyone and added in an elite prospect at quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa and a solid center Ted Karras to help.

Weaknesses: The Jets and Dolphins finished #31 and #32 in the league in rushing yards last year. The Bills and Jets also finished in the bottom ten in passing yards last year. The quarterback foursome in this division is among the youngest and arguably weakest now that Tom Brady is gone and that is a painful spot to be in.

5. AFC South

Strengths: They had two teams make the playoffs and were the only division who had every team win at least six games. They have one of the most lethal RB in the league who is a mix of power and speed in Derrick Henry. In addition to the Titans, the Colts and Texans also finished in the top 10 in the league in rushing. This was thanks in part to the Titans and Colts have very strong offensive lines ahead of them. The Colts continued to boost their D-Line with the addition of DeForest Buckner. Jacksonville helped a defense that gave up the 9th most yards last year by bringing in LB Joe Schobert and CB Darqueze Denard.

Weaknesses: The best team in the division last year, Houston, just traded away their best wide receiver, as well as former #1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney earlier in the year, and the Titans lost one of the best O-Line in Jack Conklin. The Jacksonville Jaguars traded Nick Foles to the Bears a year after signing him to a four year $88MM contract. The Jaguars appear to still be in a rebuild mode yet again and the Colts struggle to find a consistent solution for the abrupt departure of Andrew Luck. The league arguably lost the most of any division in the offseason.

4. NFC North

Strengths: For starters, three teams went .500 or above, Green Bay has an elite QB and a defense they continue to invest in, the Vikings cashed in on 15 draft picks. The Vikings and Packers had two of the top seven coverage defenses last season accorinding to PFF. The Lions grabbed talented cornerbacks in Desmond Trufant and Jeff Okudah. The division consistantly kept three of their teams at average or better on both offense and defense in total yards allowed/scored and points scored/allowed.

Weaknesses: I think many are questions in the moves this division made this offseason. Chicago and Green Bay made headscratchers in the 2020 Draft, with the Bears adding yet another tight end and the Packers picking taking Jordan Love in the first round. The Lions let Darius Slay go via trade opting instead to pay tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai and the Vikings couldn’t keep Stefon Diggs as well as both corners Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. Minnesota and Chicago were in the bottom ten in passing yards last year so hopefully the Vikings new corners can perform a bit better this year.

3. NFC South

Strengths: New incumbant Tom Brady joins the Bucaneers, while Drew Brees stayed put with the New Orleans Saints. This division boasts potentially the best running back in the league (Christian McCaffrey) and another who could be in for a bounceback season in Alvin Kamara. I’m not sure how much Todd Gurley has left in the tank but he joins Atlanta’s running back situation where they sat at 30th in rushing yards per game last year. It also has one of, if not the best wide receiver duo in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

Weaknesses: Carolina is likely rebuilding and new coach plus new quarterback minus Luke Kuechly means they are likely headed towards a mediocre year. Both Atlanta and Tampa Bay were in the bottom 10 in rushing yards last year.

2. AFC North

Strengths: Addition of Joe Burrow at the helm for the Bengals gives them a talented arm and a direction. Baltimore drafting JK Dobbins and trading for Calais Campbell gives a stacked team even more firepower. Cleveland added Jack Conklin and Austin Hooper and Pittsburgh added Stephen Wisniewski and Eric Ebron. Top to bottom, this division probably improved the most in the offseason. Cleveland will need Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to step up as many hoped and Pittsburgh continues to have one of the best O-Line/D-Line duos in the league and has a stiffling defense.

Weaknesses: Cincinnati still has some other pieces to fit in and both the Bengals and Steelers rushing yards per game were in the bottom ten in the league last year. Cleveland will need to get out of it’s one way and finally finish over .500 this year. Pittsburgh is getting older and will need to defy father time again.

1. NFC West

Strengths: Well for starters you have the team who was in the Super Bowl last year and looks to be just as strong going into this year in the 49ers. Russell Wilson continues to prove he is an elite quarterback and the Arizona Cardinals assuredly improved in the draft this year as well as trading for some DeAndre Hopkins guy who is supposed to be pretty good. Only one team in this division finished below .500 last year.

Weaknesses: The Cardinals still did not shore up that offensive line which means Kyler Murray will still be running for his life. The Rams finally released Todd Gurley and Seattle did not give Wilson a ton fo support last year forcing him to use his excellent talent to carry the team at times. The Seahawks were bottom 12 in yards and points allowed last year as well as being 30th in pass blocking last year.

Poll

Which division is the best in football?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    AFC North
    (6 votes)
  • 4%
    AFC South
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    AFC East
    (2 votes)
  • 6%
    AFC West
    (4 votes)
  • 16%
    NFC North
    (10 votes)
  • 11%
    NFC South
    (7 votes)
  • 14%
    NFC East
    (9 votes)
  • 33%
    NFC West
    (21 votes)
62 votes total Vote Now