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
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
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.