Grid Iron Audible—Best in Division
Do you think your team plays in a tough division? Let’s put that thought to the test and compare each of the eight divisions. I’ll list the divisions according to my rankings, beginning with the worst, and progressing to the best.
8. AFC West
With the worst record (14-22) and a minus 103 point differential, the division that is home to four AFL charter franchises has lost some of its former glory. There is not a single top flight defense to be found here, and the wide receiver play, throughout the group (though Peyton is in the process of changing that), is as poor as I can recall. At least two, but likely three, of these teams will make coaching changes in the off-season. The Broncos are the class of the division, while the Chiefs are contending for the 2012 TP Award, given for wiping up the rear.
7. AFC South
The 19-18 record through ten weeks may be deceiving due to Houston’s 8-1 mark; the rest of the division is 11-17. Houston is a very good team, but their +107 PD can’t keep the South from posting a league worst -119 points. A couple of more losses, and this group would be challenging the AFC West for the doormat division crown. The Texans own this division, and Jacksonville is the worst team in football.
6. AFC East
Due to the 6-3 record of the Patriots, the AFC East is the very picture of average in the NFL. A 16-20 won/lost record and -42 points outs this group as decidedly un-elite, and as underachieving. It was a tossup here with the NFC East. I let playmakers break the tie, and there just aren’t many to find here. New England is in charge in this neighborhood, with Buffalo and the Jets fighting for the cellar door.
5. NFC East
Only more playmakers elevated this perennial powerhouse over their AFC counterparts. A 16-21 record and -52 points puts these guys in the bottom half of the league. The division that has long been known for dominant defenses has drastically slipped on that side of the ball. There is still plenty of firepower on offense however, and I expect some of these teams to get hot in the home stretch. The Giants are the best in the division, and the Eagles have hit rock bottom.
4. NFC West
With one and a half elite teams (the Hawks are elite at home), this pick will get some people mad. 19-16-2 is a good record, just as +45 net points rates well. The reason I’ve slotted this group here is because I only see one contender here. The Seahawks will play with anyone at home, but they are less than pedestrian on the road (no pun intended). They may make the PS, but they’ll be on the road if they do. The Niners still command this division, and I think the Cards are worse than the Rams, though both are better than last year.
3. NFC South
The Saints should move into positive points this weekend, giving 3 teams here that distinction. A 19-17 record and +64 points are more than respectable, and those numbers are likely to get better. By season’s end, this group could move up to number two, but lack of good defense will keep them from the top slot this year. The Falcons are the most complete team, but the Saints and Bucs are both red hot, while the Panthers are on the canvas.
2. AFC North
19-17 and + 35 points are a bit disappointing for this division. The Bengals, while talented, have taken a step backward from last season, especially on defense. Injury concerns have Pittsburgh slipping of late, and Cleveland…well Cleveland is Cleveland, and still in the midst of a thirty year rebuilding project. I picked the Steelers to win this division, but so far the Ravens have outplayed everyone here, and have to be considered the head of the class.
1. NFC North
The best division in football and it’s not even close. The Black & Blue is back in a big way! With a 23-14 mark, they have 4 more wins than any other division in the league, and their +172 points are +108 points more than the nearest competitor. It’s possible that the playoffs find three of these teams still around. Though anything can happen here, the Bears are in the top spot for now, with the enigmatic Lions holding to the bottom rung.
That’s a wrap on my divisional breakdown. If you don’t agree with my assessment of the Black & Blue Division as number one, there is only one thing I can say. You are wrong. However, I’m always open to dialogue, even from the haters. Please feel free to comment, rant, ramble or donate.
About the Author
Written by Steve Massey
Steve Massey is the author of Grid Iron Audible, a column covering all things NFL, at Pro Sports Blogging. Like a great QB led team, he is sometimes down, but never out of the game. He is always networking, and would consider any and all efforts to procure his talents. Just ask him. He was educated at Fort Scott Community College (Kansas), and now lives in Northern Arkansas with his beautiful wife, Debbie. Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveMassey9