Around the League

Presented By

ATL writers weigh in on best divisional all-star team

Leave it to our pal Dameshek to come up with an intriguing offseason space-filler.

On Tuesday's Dave Dameshek Football Program, the crowned king of Studio 66 proposed a fix to the ailing Pro Bowl. Instead of AFC versus NFC, what if the NFL rolled out eight all-star teams, one from each division?

This will never happen, but if it did, which division would field the strongest roster?

It's a topic the Around the League writers tossed around in yet another UNQUESTIONABLY ORGANIC email thread.

From: Sessler, Marc* Sent: Wednesday, June 3, 2013 10:07 AM*
To: Wesseling, Chris; Rosenthal, Gregg; Portman, Natalie* Subject: ORGANIC EMAIL CHAIN: Best divisional all-star team *

OK, fellas. Before you escape the office for your Fourth of July wanderings, let's weigh in on Master Shek's divisional Pro Bowl thingy. Which division would reign supreme? I'll let you guys chime in before I provide the correct answer. GO.

GR: The obvious first instinct is the NFC West. The defense would be ridiculous at every level. It's fair to wonder about the passing game, though. And all my predictions start with the passing game. The top NFC West quarterback is ... Russell Wilson? The wide receivers would be Larry Fitzgerald, Percy Harvin and who else on the outside? Compared to other divisions, this group is still lacking an absolute sure-thing, top-level option at quarterback.

(Ducks from tweets written in Seattle.)

CW: Agree. Knee-jerk reaction is the NFC West has the strongest rosters, therefore the best collection of talent. In Fitzgerald and Harvin, they have two top-10 NFL receivers, plus a wild card in Tavon Austin. Are Harvin and Austin the most dangerous kick returners in the NFL? The 49ers' offensive line is so dominant that the entire unit could be plugged in, leaving Russell Okung and Jake Long as super subs. Marshawn Lynch and Frank Gore are your running backs.

The defense is even more stacked. This division might take the crown just with the 49ers' front seven combined with the Seahawks' secondary. Now throw in Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington and Patrick Peterson from the Cardinals, and Chris Long, Michael Brockers and James Laurinaitis from the Rams. That's a scary defense.

The NFC North is interesting, though, with dominant talent at the skill positions. Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall are the headliners. Looking deeper, the offensive line is thoroughly average, and the defense can't hang with the NFC West.

Brooks: Luck vs. Kaepernick

Andrew Luck and Colin 

Kaepernick are emerging stars. Which QB is better? Bucky Brooks' pick might surprise you. More ...

MS: It's hard to argue with the West. I'd debate you, Gregg, on assuming Wilson as the starter. I've gone on the record suggesting Russell might have a better second season that any of last year's rookies, but you also have Colin Kaepernick. I don't see quarterback as a weakness here, and you can throw Vernon Davis into the mix on the pass-catching front.

Plus, the coaching staff presumably would unite Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll on the same sideline (giving this WWF moment-for-the-ages a run for its money). The NFC North would have some freaky talent, but my dark-horse pick is the AFC North. It might lack glitz on paper, but it's still the conference's grittiest division.

GR: I was thinking of naming the NFC East as a contender until I thought about the secondary. That is a shaky collection of cornerbacks and safeties. Defensive tackle lacks standouts, too.

MS: So which division would rank last?

GR: The AFC South would have a whole lot of Texans defenders, Andrew Luck and not much else. Although it would also have Wade Phillips (@sonofbum) as its designated Twitter account.

CW: In the AFC West, I would take the Broncos' roster versus the field.

MS: Not to pile on the proud American Football Conference, but I'd argue the East could give the South and West a challenge for lamest roster. Other than allowing Rex Ryan onto the same sideline with Tom Brady (with Mark Sanchez selling Bomb Pops at a mezzanine-level concession stand), what do the Jets add to the mix? The Bills have C.J. Spiller, but after the talent exodus in New England, this team would struggle. Mike Wallace and Stevie Johnson  arguably are your top two wideouts.

GR: Would the Raiders even place a player on the AFC West team?

CW: Sea Bass. Maybe shoe-horn Jared Veldheer into the offensive line, but he's not better than Ryan Clady at left tackle.

MS: OK, so who's named head coach for each of these teams? Wess, you do NFC. Gregg, AFC.

GR: Don't tell me what to write, Sessler. That's not organic.

MS: Sorry, boss.

GR:Bill Belichick in the AFC East, Mike Tomlin in the AFC North, Chuck Pagano taking out Gary Kubiak in the AFC South and Andy Reid in the AFC West. It's a tough battle between Reid and John Fox for who I'd trust less in game management, but Reid brings his system along with him. Fox brings runs on third-and-long while holding on to a lead.

CW: I believe the 49ers have the best coaching staff in the NFL right now, and Greg Roman is the most creative play-caller (Bruce Arians and Mike McCarthy are right up there, too). So again, the NFC West has the advantage -- perhaps mitigated slightly by the loss of Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to Jacksonville.

Instant Debate: Best play-caller?

Sean Payton-65x90.jpg

Who is the top play-caller in the NFL today? Our analysts praise New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, among others. More ...

I would take Sean Payton ever so slightly over Mike Smith in the NFC South. Payton is my play-caller, with Mike Nolan of the Falcons as defensive coordinator.

McCarthy is the easy choice as head coach in the NFC North, though I'm fascinated by Marc Trestman's offensive mind and Midas touch with quarterbacks.

I'm a Chip Kelly believer, but Tom Coughlin has earned the head-coaching gig in the NFC East. I want both Shanahans running my offense after the brilliance they showed with RGIII last season.

MS: Gentlemen, I've enjoyed this wandering but civil chitchat. Until next time.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content


See all the Action

Replay every game all season.