Weeks before the official kick off of the NFL betting season, the NFC West and AFC North remain in the eyes of many as the toughest divisions in the pro football league. If you find yourself coaching the St. Louis Rams, you probably wish you were in the NFC South than the West, as your path to a division title would probably be a lot easier.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@fans_Pittsburgh) July 5, 2015
For 2015, here are our preliminary divisional power rankings.
- NFC West (pending how the 49ers and the Rams end up doing).
- AFC North (will send three teams to the playoffs, and don’t count out the Browns either)
- NFC North (the Packers will dominate again, but the Vikings and Lions are also going to have a lot to say)
- AFC East (the Patriots are still the favorites, but every game in the division will be tough for them)
- NFC East (each team is just one injury away from disaster, but Washington won’t compete)
- AFC West (Raiders are still too easy, and the Broncos are fragile)
- NFC South (the Saints and Panthers will play better than people think, but Atlanta and Tampa are still a mess
- AFC South (the Colts should easily go 6-0 in division games)
This list doesn’t show the major gap between the first six divisions and the two South divisions (AFC & NFC). While the New Orleans Saints should do numerous changes to improve their odds, and make their division less laughable, there is really not much to celebrate except for Andrew Luck’s emergence. Carolina should repeat in the NFC South, but they’re likely to lose in the first round because there won’t be a playoff opponent with a third-string quarterback for them to beat.
The AFC East was fairly weak last year, but all three of the New England Patriots’ competitors have become a lot more interesting. Jets’ former head coach Rex Ryan will charge up the Buffalo Bills’ defense and find a way to motivate their pupils. The Jets probably have the league’s best secondary, and the Dolphins have a good quarterback in Ryan Tannehill and a potentially scary pass rush with Ndamukong Suh.
The AFC North is still a house of horrors. The Browns have made the most changes, but it will be interesting to see if Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel can get them closer to contention than Brian Hoyer could.
The NFC North could end up being even stronger if John Fox can make something happen in Chicago. Right now, their biggest question is at the quarterback position as no one knows what Jay Cutler will do.
Another certainty, of course, is that things will certainly shake up as the season gets underway. By Week 8, this list could look a lot different.
CBS Sports: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/players/playerpage/563145/ndamukong-suh