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Which NFL divisions score and allow the most points?

I dig into trends among NFL divisions to see if you can gleam some sneaky fantasy knowledge.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

When you look at how each division has done over the last three years both in points for, points against and what divisions they played (besides themselves) you can suss out some that will traditionally deliver on one side of the ball and others that are a victim or beneficiary of their schedules. Then you have some divisions that have so much movement and ups and downs, you can’t suss anything at all.

Below is my attempt to delineate some patterns among certain divisions and what expectations you could have going into this year.

2017 - 2019 Division Points For, Points Against, Scheduled Divisional Opponent

2019 Rank PF Rank PA Opp Div 1 Opp Div 2 2018 Rank PF Rank PA Opp Div 1 Opp Div 2 2017 Rank PF Rank PA Opp Div 1 Opp Div 2
2019 Rank PF Rank PA Opp Div 1 Opp Div 2 2018 Rank PF Rank PA Opp Div 1 Opp Div 2 2017 Rank PF Rank PA Opp Div 1 Opp Div 2
AFC East 8 1 AFC North NFC East 7 6 AFC South NFC North 7 7 AFC West NFC South
AFC North 4 4 AFC East NFC West 3 4 AFC West NFC South 8 4 AFC South NFC North
AFC South 3 5 AFC West NFC South 6 1 AFC East NFC East 6 8 AFC North NFC West
AFC West 7 3 AFC South NFC West 2 5 AFC North NFC West 5 3 AFC East NFC East
NFC East 5 7 NFC North AFC East 8 3 NFC South AFC South 3 5 NFC West AFC West
NFC North 6 1 NFC East AFC West 5 2 NFC West AFC East 4 1 NFC South AFC North
NFC South 2 8 NFC West AFC South 1 8 NFC East AFC North 1 2 NFC North AFC East
NFC West 1 6 NFC South AFC North 4 7 NFC North AFC West 2 6 NFC East AFC South

AFC East Takeaways: The AFC East has been among the worst two divisions in ‘points for’ over the last three seasons. This coincides with them playing one of the best three divisions in ‘points for’ 2017 and 2018 seasons. AFC West and NFC South were top three in 2017, AFC South and NFC North were top two last year. Last year, when they had a more average set of opponents, they were still last in ‘points for’, I would imagine the combination of struggled with Jets coupled with a weaker Miami team played into them not scoring much. Meanwhile, on defense, a combination of an elite Patriots and Bills defense helped them be the best defensive division and the first time their division was above average on defense.

AFC North Takeaways: AFC North is your perfectly average division. They have been in the middle of ‘points for’ and ‘against’ each year with the exception of a terrible offense in 2017. If you want something that is perfectly safe and average on both sides of the ball, this is the division for you.

AFC South Takeaways: The interesting takeaway from the AFC South is the wide ranging spectrum of division they’ve played. For instance, last year they played the AFC West and NFC South. The AFC West scored the second fewest points but had the third best defense while the NFC South scored the second MOST points but also allowed the most points. This notion is fairly consistent over the last three years which had to be difficult for these teams playing the two book ends on offense and defense week in and out. You see this play out as they have been up and down in ‘points for’ and ‘points against’ over the years.

AFC West Takeaways: Two years ago the AFC West was good on defense and weaker on offense, then in 2018 that flipped with a strong offense and weak defense (in tandem with Patrick Mahomes starting for the Chiefs) but then last year they were weak on offense and strong on defense. They actually did this in SPITE of playing AFC South and NFC West who were strong on offense and weak on defense. Last year, while the Chiefs were amazing on offense, the Broncos, Raiders and Chargers were anemic but the Chiefs, Broncos and Chargers were all solid on defense.

NFC East Takeaways: NFC East is all over the place in being average and then fantastic and then horrible. They are up on offense than down and likewise on defense and none of it runs in connection with their scheduled inter and intra-conference opponents. This kind of makes sense when you consider how the Eagles, Cowboys, Giants and Washington Football Team are all over the place over the last few years. Quarterback uncertainty, trades and moves, consistently being inconsistent is thematic with this division. The only thing that is consistent – the top two teams will be the Eagles/Cowboys and the bottom two will be the Giants/Washington Football Team but I have no idea what order it will be.

NFC North Takeaways: NFC North consistently has the best defense in the league (they are first or second each year). The Vikings and Bears in particular boast a strong defense year in and out. The Packers dabble in there a bit and the Lions tend to trail. Their offenses continue to be just below average. Each of the last three years they have faced the worst AFC division on offense, how fortuitous for them. Unfortunately, two of those years they faced the NFC West and NFC South who were the best offensive divisions those years.

NFC South Takeaways: I suppose this will come as no big surprise but the division that included Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Drew Brees has finished among the top two in points scored each of the last three years. This ALSO might surprise you but two of those three years, this division was dead last in points allowed. Part of that might be the inter-divisional play each season but the larger part is they are heavily influenced by their opponent divisions each year as they run in tandem each year.

NFC West Takeaways: Two of the three years the NFC West has been a top two division in ‘points for’ for and all three years they are bottom three in ‘points against’. While the Seahawks hold strong on offense, the other teams have taken turns with the Rams coming strong on year and the 49ers the next. In spite of a strong Rams and Seahawks defense, the 49ers have come and gone as a solid defense and the Cardinals have consistently struggled defensively. Who they play has not factored into the defensive struggles for NFC West.