Power Rankings: How do the NFL's divisions stack up against each other?


Yesterday, the World Cup kicked off in Brazil, a sporting event that once again introduces fans around the globe to the concept of “group play.” It’s essentially an elaborate round-robin tournament, where 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four, with each group only playing against teams within that group to see who will advance. Every team is guaranteed three games, as they try to earn enough points through wins and ties to move on in the tournament.

This setup leads to fans bickering about the relative strength or weakness of each group. Inevitably, those who like to make excuses for the United States not faring better will claim that the Americans got placed in the “group of death.” It happens every four years.

This got the editors at cover32 thinking about the fact that NFL is structured similarly, with eight four-team divisions. Granted, franchises don’t just play those within their own pod or group, but being in a good or bad division certainly impacts a team’s ability to make the playoffs. It’s the exact same concept.

So what division in the NFL could be considered a “group of death” and which one provides an easy road (think Brazil) to the next round? Here’s a ranking of each division from eight to one:


8. AFC South

Only the Colts are an above-.500 caliber team

The Colts are a team on the rise, led by a promising young quarterback who has eventual MVP-type talent. But aside from Indianapolis, this division is putrid. Houston is a dumpster fire, as they introduce a new head coach and try to find a quarterback. Tennessee is in exactly the same boat, unless Jake Locker finally develops. Heck, Jacksonville could be the second best team in the AFC South, as Gus Bradley is a promising young coach.

7. AFC East

It’s as though the Patriots get six byes per season

There’s a reason why New England win the division every year; nobody else in the AFC East is capable of doing it. Miami is probably the second-best team in the group, but as the proved late last season – when they choked with the playoffs on the line and two games to play – they aren’t ready for the next level. Meanwhile, both the Bills and Jets are trying to win with second-year quarterbacks who need a lot of seasoning. This is an ugly bunch.


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  • Bob

    How the hell is the AFC North ranked above the AFC West? The West’s 3rd ranked team beat the hell out of Cincy. Indy beat KC on a fluky comeback, and Denver was the AFC Champs. Ridiculously stupid ranking.

    • Anonymous

      I agree bob.10000000%

  • Mark

    Very stupid article. No wonder nobody had the guts to sign their name to this article.

    • Anonymous

      just like last year dumbass

      • Mark

        You must be the angry author…..and a keyboard toughguy. What a combo. I’m sure you’re a real hit with the ladies.

  • oaklandno1fan

    The AFC West is the best in the league this year. Last year we were second only to NFC west because they won the super bowl. Not the same Raiders this year. This is the last article I read on cover 32.com.

  • Rico

    The AFC West is decent, but hardly better than the AFC North. The west is a finesse division. Pressure them and hit them in the mouth and their toast. The NFL did everything last season and this season (schedule wise) to make it as easy for Manning to get into the big game. He chokes time and time again. Manning and the Broncos start and end at home, although Seattle will spank that behind again in week three. Everyone know KC was a fraud, and it was only a matter of time before they crashed. San Diego needed help from other teams just to get into the playoffs, and then with the help of the Bengals quarterback(3 turnovers) and a fumble by the running back (1 turnover, caught a break. The same Bengals team dominated the Chargers in San Diego. The Raiders, well enough said. Fury over finesse. Don’t drop the soap afc west.

    • JakeW

      You’ll see KC is no fraud. 11-5 is a solid season by any standard, but these guys did it just a year after being the worst team in the NFL. I get sick of hearing that KC was a fraud. It was the first year of a complete organizational overhaul. Was it unexpected? Yes! Never fraudulent though. That team won every single one of those games fair and square. They may not have always been pretty but a W is a W in the NFL. No matter how you cut it the AFC West put 3 teams in the playoffs last year. As much as I would love to believe that the NFL tried to help Peyton Manning, it just isn’t so. The scheduling procedures are pretty straight forward really, they are;
      • Each team plays home and away against its three division opponents, which accounts for six games on the schedule.

      • Each team plays four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle, which accounts for four more games.

      • Each team plays four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle, which accounts for another four games.

      • Each team plays two intraconference games based on the prior year’s standings. For example, the first-place team in a division will play against the first-place team from another division within the same conference. The second place team in a division will play against the second-place team from another division within the same conference, etc…

      So there is no scheme to get Manning to the big game other than the one that the Denver Broncos have put in place as far as picking up the best available player for each position.
      As far as the AFC North goes 1 team was above .500. By the way, those Bengals had the same record and points differential as the Chiefs last year.

  • Smicky

    NFC East isn’t the best division by far but theres no clear cut favorite…the eagles are on their way to being elite? Thats a joke! Dallas has no defense, Giants and Redskins will be better. You may have ranked the division correct but your reasoning is not intelligent at all.

  • JakeW

    AFC West should be rated higher than number 5. I can concede the number 1 spot to the NFC West. Superbowl Champs and top in points differential makes a good argument for the #1 spot. Looking at the average W/L records and the points differential per division, the AFC West sits firmly in #2 place. That’s not even taking into account that the AFC West had 3 teams making it to the playoffs and one making it all the way to the Superbowl.