What's the best division in the NFL?
The Around the League gang -- Gregg Rosenthal, Dan Hanzus, Marc Sessler and Brian McIntyre -- each took a swipe at ranking the NFL's eight divisions from best (1 point) to worst (8 points). Our votes were cast, the numbers were tallied and here's what we came up with:
|Divisional Power Rankings|
|1. NFC South||8||Cam Newton's emergence creates a trio of contenders.|
|2. NFC North||10||Best quarterback division and potentially three playoff teams.|
|3. AFC North||11||Best defensive division. Revitalized Bengals help.|
|4. NFC East||14||Division with the most drama and last year's champion.|
|5. AFC East||17||Top-heavy division in 2011. Jets, Bills have a lot to prove.|
|6. AFC West||26||Competitive, but mediocre, despite the presence of Manning.|
|7. NFC West||28||Lot of young talent despite ranking, but still has ways to go.|
|8. AFC South||30||Colts and Jaguars are bottom feeders, but Texans are scary.|
A few notes:
» The NFC South grabbed our top-overall ranking because of voting consistency. McIntyre pegged them at No. 1, and nobody had the division ranked lower than No. 3.
» Hanzus, who clearly watches a lot of Sunday Night Football, named the NFC East No. 1. Rosenthal and Sessler had the NFC North on top.
» Very little love was shown to the AFC South, which received three last-place votes and McIntyre's sixth-place ballot (netting a 30 ranking, just two away from a worst-possible 32). There was a lot of agreement at the bottom of the list. Three divisions -- the AFC South, NFC West and AFC West -- didn't receive higher than a sixth-place ranking from any of the ATL writers.
» Despite its consistently low ranking, the NFC West has made strides. The gap between, say, the NFC East and NFC West has closed dramatically. The NFC West would have been dead last, often by a wide margin, for much of the past decade. It's a division on the rise with the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals all possessing good defenses.
» Back to the NFC East for a minute. It drew a varied response. Hanzus, of course, believes it's football's best. Sessler and McIntyre said No. 4, and Rosenthal placed it at No. 5. If an NFC East team fails to represent the conference in the Super Bowl, Hanzus has agreed to mow Jerry Jones' epic Dallas lawn until 2016.
Feel free to tell us where you disagree below.
While you're at it, give a listen to the latest edition of the Dave Dameshek Football Program, in which Hanzus and Sessler debate with Shek about which division is king of the world.