NFL Division Rankings '05

So, your team is winning their division. But is that because your team is good, or your division stinks? This thread provides the answer to that question.

How do you rate divisions? You can’t just add up the wins, you have to factor out all divisional games first. So here are the official divisional standings, in order of best to worst.

Last year’s rankings: (updated to include entire season)

#1 AFC East 25-15 (63%)
#2 AFC North 24-16 (60%)
#3 AFC West 22-18 (55%)
#4 AFC South 21-19 (53%)
#5 NFC East 19-21 (48%)
#5 NFC South 19-21 (48%)
#7 NFC North 17-23 (43%)
#8 NFC West 13-27 (33%)

I’d just like to once again point out how truly awful the NFC West was last season. Will they pull it together this year? The Magic 8-Ball says no, but hey, on Any Given Sunday…

NFL Division Rankings through Week 1

#1 NFC South 2-0 (100%) 2-0 this week
Ron Mexico and the Falcons beat up McNabb and the Eagles but good, and Chuckie’s Bucs schooled the Vikes. Weren’t the Eagles and Vikings both supposed to win their divisions easily? Keep an eye on the NFC South!

#2 AFC East 3-1 (75%) 3-1 this week
When did the Jets become the embarassment of the division? Oh yeah, it was just yesterday. Last year, the Pats and Jets both started off 5-0, and the Bills and Dolphins started out 0-5. Looks like only the Patriots have a chance to repeat the trend.

#2 NFC East 3-1 (75%) 3-1 this week
You have to watch out for the NFC East, where old coaches go to die. Most of the fans of NFC East teams are going to bed with a smile on their face, knowing that every team in the division is undefeated, except for the poor, winless Eagles. It’s too early to count the Eagles out just yet, (no matter how much I’d like to), but one must savor these moments when one can.

#4 AFC South 2-2 (50%) 2-2 this week
The Colts took a while to get it in gear against the Ravens defense, but the bigger story is that the Colts may have a defense this year. Against QB-less teams, it certainly is formidable. Jacksonville hopes to contend for the division title, while The Texans and Titans look to battle it out for cellar dweller supreme.

#4 AFC North 1-1 (50%) 1-1 this week
The Steelers hope to take the division in cruise control much like last year, with their seemingly endless stable of quality running backs. The Ravens may need another year – and another QB – to get their offense on track.

#6 AFC West 1-3 (25%) 1-3 this week
The Chiefs jump out to the early lead, and may never look back. The Chargers may have a quarterback controversy in the near future, but the Raiders at least showed signs of life against the Patriots. It’s one thing to lose to the Superbowl champs. It’s quite another to lose to the Human Statue and the 6-10 also-rans. And then there are the Broncos…thousands of Denver faithful reacted much the same way the Russkys did to their '80 Olympic hockey team: “Were you drunk?”

#7 NFC North 0-2 (0%) 0-2 this week
The Vikes were heavy favorites, but got pounded on by the new and improved Bucs. At least the Bears kept it close against the Redskins. Or at least we think they did; we’re still searching for any witnesses who didn’t fall asleep while watching that snoozefest. Luckily for Packers fans, their game is off-topic this week.

#8 NFC West 0-2 (0%) 0-2 this week
How many weeks will it take for the West to get its very first win? Apparently, more than 1. Yet again, their divisional games are nice and competitive, but when they venture out into the rest of the league, they just get blown out, losing their two games this week by a combined total of 35 points.
Conference Ranking through Week 1

#1 AFC 1-1 (50%) 1-1 this week
#2 NFC 1-1 (50%) 1-1 this week

Not much interconference action so far. Let’s see how long the NFC can keep pace.

We had some movement in the rankings at the top this week, including a new top dog. The author never had any doubts…

NFL Division Rankings through Week 2

#1 NFC East 5-1 (83%) 2-0 this week
The Saints had everything stacked against them, and completely fell apart from the first whistle to the last. It would be easy to make excuses for them, but they will have none of it. Asked if their unique situation were partly to blame for their performance, Deuce McAllister replied, “No, I don’t blame Katrina. I blame the New York Giants. They just outplayed us.” How can you not respect that attitude? In other news, the brief flicker of hope lasted exactly one week in San Francisco, as the Eagles routed them in embarassing fashion. The East rides the new-look Giants and old-school Eagles to the top spot, up from the tie at #2 last week.

#2 AFC North 4-2 (67%) 3-1 this week
Who would have guessed that the one team to lose this week would be the Ravens? Anybody who watched their offense practice last week, apparently. The Browns fight for their new head coach’s first win, while the Bengals and Steelers toy with their opponents like men among boys. Are the Ohio teams good enough to propel the North to the top of the heap? Only time will tell. This week’s strong showing moves them up from #4 to #2.

#2 NFC South 4-2 (67%) 2-2 this week
The Panthers received a collective thank-you note from 15 AFC teams after handing the Patriots an upset, and the Bucs continue to fire on all cylinders by beating a quality Bills team. Unfortunately, the Falcons seemed a bit lethargic after a short week coupled with a cross-country trip, and the Saints are just plain exhausted, so the split decision this week dropped the South from #1 to #2.

#4 AFC South 3-3 (50%) 1-1 this week
How bad, exactly, are the Houston Texans? Don’t ask their newly fired Defensive Coordinator, as he’s probably biased. The Titans, on the other hand, showed everyone just how bad the Ravens’ offense truly is. The South is all about .500, hanging tough with the middle of the pack. No change for the South this week.

#4 AFC East 3-3 (50%) 0-2 this week
With the Patriots go the division, and their fall to the Panthers signaled a precipitous drop in the rankings. The Billies could do nothing against the Bucs, with Losman looking every bit the rookie he really is. The East looks to regroup next week, but for now this division is mired in mediocrity, dropping two spots from #2 last week.

#6 AFC West 1-3 (25%) 0-0 this week
No action for the West this week, with two divisional games being played. Unfortunately, this means no change in their subpar ranking.

#6 NFC West 1-3 (25%) 1-1 this week
The NFC West has reason to celebrate after the Seahawks hang on to beat the harried Falcons. For the first time in a very long time, the West is not the worst division in football, moving up one spot from #7 to #6. Way to go, West.

#8 NFC North 0-4 (0%) 0-2 this week
At least the Packers weren’t humiliated as badly as the Vikings were. This is not looking like a very good division at all; could they end up worse than the NFC West was last year? One shudders to think. The second goose-egg in a row plummets the North to a stranglehold on last, still looking for their very first win.

Conference Ranking through Week 2

#1 AFC 3-3 (50%) 2-2 this week
#1 NFC 3-3 (50%) 2-2 this week

Parity rears its ugly head, with the NFC standing toe to toe with the AFC for the second consecutive week. How long can this last?

I think the AFC North will be promoted after next week. Expect the Steelers to pull off a quality win on the Patriots, The Bengals to walk all over the Bears (and how long has it been since you could say something like that with a straight face?), and the Browns to play a strangely low-scoring Indianapolis team tough, maybe even pulling off an upset. Fortunately the Ravens have a bye so their continued freefall has been suspended for a week.

I don’t think the G-Men have what it takes to put the Chargers down with an 0-3 start, but I do think that the Eagles will take care of the Raiders handily. As for the rest of the NFC East I think we saw tonight that Dallas is overrated and the Redskins aren’t quite up to snuff. It was a good game, but only because both teams were average at best.

The NFC South is poised to make a move also. Let’s see if the Bucs and the Panthers are for real this week. If the Falcons hit on all cylinders and the two pretenders-to-contenders can come through they might even be able to jump all the way up to the top. I think it all depends on the Browns this week how it shakes out, but don’t be surprised to see the NFC East go all the way down to 3rd.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. We all know where my bias lies.

Yeah, I’m expecting quite a bit of shuffling at the top for many weeks to come, if not the whole season. That’s what parity is all about, after all. And please, continue to dismiss the Giants all you want. Big Blue plays better with a chip on their shoulder. I’ll be interested to see just how little respect the undefeated G-Men get in the media this week leading up to their matchup against the winless Chargers.

Really what I’m most curious about is battle for last between the NFC West and the NFC North. Just when you think the West sucks more than any division that ever existed, along comes the North to throw their hat in the ring. It’s like watching a trainwreck; I can’t look away.

I’m not dismissing the Giants at all. I just think that the Chargers are better than 0-2 and they know that they’re in deep trouble if they start 0-3 so they’ll have some serious incentive. The Giants have beaten a perennial doormat and a team without a home. This week will be their first real test. The same goes for the Steelers. The Titans should have been better, and the way they took out the Ravens they may yetl be pretty good, but we’ll have to wait and see about that. The Texans were the Steelers’ early-season doormat. Now the Steelers get the Patriots, and I think they have what it takes to get it done. They’ve gotten past the worries about the offense and the defense is still hella strong. I’m just not sure about the Giants yet. I think that the early-game performance of the Chargers will be the deciding factor. if they suck in the beginning they’ll lose. If they play well early I think they can get past the G-Men.

Why would you think this? Granted, I think the Bengals are very very good, but I can’t understand how anyone would take a game against the Bears for granted like this.

Look at the outcomes of the last couple weeks. The Bengals beat Cleveland, a team that’s barely average. A team that barely squeeked by the Packers, one of the worst teams in the league. Then they beat the Vikings, a team that couldn’t implode any worse if they tried. A team with a grand total of 8 interceptions in two games. I’ll grant you that Cincy played solid, and they took care of business, but let me ask you this; If the Bengals lost 4 straight making them 2-4, would people be looking at those wins and saying “what a shock that they weren’t as good after all.” No, they’d have shrugged and said, well they beat two crappy teams, and then got exposed. I don’ t think this will happen mind you, but that 2-0 record isn’t exactly making people say “WOW”.

Next, take the Bears. They lost to a team that’s now 2-0, coming off a big comeback win over another quality divisional opponent on the road. A team with a very good defense, and a team they could have beaten if a break went their way. Then they subsequently crushed a team that was 1-0. A team that actually was able to beat the Packers, mind you.

Again, I’m not thinking the Bears are going to dominate or anything, but their performances in the first 2 games was arguably as impressive as the Bengals, and they get the Bengals at home.

I have to admire a man who can say “Bears” and “quality divisional opponent” in the same sentence with a straight face. There are no quality teams in the NFC North. “Packers” means “Bret Favre and a bunch of mid-range talent,” “Vikings” means “I guess we really did need Randy Moss,” “Lions” means “we’re only interesting on Thanksgiving,” and “Bears” means “Quarterback? We don’t got no steenking quarterback.”

I actually talked to a coworker this morning who believes that the Vikings no longer have a chance at the divisional title. Why not? Somebody has to win that crap division, so why not the Vikes?

I think you misunderstood. I said that the Bears lost to a team (the Redskins) who just beat a quality divisional opponent (the Cowboys) on the road.

I told you the G-Men couldn’t get around the Chargers. That was simply a stomping.

It was beyond brutal. Tomlinson looked like a man among boys out there…he simply owned us. So much for the vaunted Giants run defense. At least Eli broke the 300 yard barrier for the first time in his career. (And still has better numbers than Peyton on the season.)

The Monday nighter is a divisional game, so look for the updated rankings later tonight.

NFL Division Rankings through Week 3

#1 NFC East 7-2 (78%) 2-1 this week
Oddly, instead of Eli folding under the pressure, it was the Giants defense who crumbled. So Manning’s career-best performance was but a drop in the bucket compared to that force of nature, Ladanian Tomlinson. With the Redskins off and both Philly and Dallas collecting wins, the entire NFC East is now pointing and laughing at New York. Even still, all four teams have winning records, and so this division easily remains top dog another week.

#2 NFC South 6-4 (60%) 2-2 this week
How happy are the Bucs, going 3-0 after a satisfying win over their longtime former-division-rival Packers? The Falcons earned a good road win over the vaunted Bills defense. Unfortunately, the Panthers lost a trap game to the fish and the wheels are starting to come off the bus for the Saints. Despite a .500 showing, previous wins give the South sole possession of the #2 spot.

#3 AFC South 5-4 (56%) 2-1 this week
The South was the only division other than the league-leading NFC East to post a winning record this week. The Colts won another defensive game while the Jags traveled to New Jersey and scraped out an overtime victory over the suspect Jets. Even the Titans made a game of it, but ultimately lost to the Rams. With the Texans on a bye, the South was able to muster a strong enough showing to climb up from a tie at #4 to a tie at #3.

#3 AFC North 5-4 (56%) 1-2 this week
The Steelers have to be furious that they let a win over the hated Patriots slip through their fingers, while the Browns should be encouraged with their strong defensive showing against Peyton Manning, despite the fact that he’s been outperformed by younger brother Eli three weeks straight. Romeo Crennel just seems to have Peyton’s number. In other news, the Bengals smacked around the struggling Bears, but it was not enough to prevent a drop in the rankings. The North falls from a tie for #2 last week to a tie for #3 this week.

#5 AFC East 5-5 (50%) 2-2 this week
Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri embody the term “clutch”, and with them the Patriots were able to steal a win in Pittsburgh. I don’t know what Nick Saban’s been putting in the water down in Miami, but it seems to be working. Despite looking awful, Gang Green played the Jags tough, but lost in overtime, while the Billies never really had a chance against the visititing Falcons. The East is mired in .500 land, which has actually lost them a spot, down from a tie at #4 to sole possession of the #5 spot.

#6 AFC West 2-4 (33%) 1-1 this week
The Chargers have single-handedly doubled the win total of the West, but at least they did it in convincing fashion over the travel-weary Giants. Tomlinson is back to his old self, which puts a much brighter face on the Bolts’ upcoming schedule woes. And the Raiders almost shocked the NFC Champion Eagles. While there is some potential in the West, their slow start keeps them down in the tie for #6 with the other Western division.

#6 NFC West 2-4 (33%) 1-1 this week
The 49ers came out swinging, but in the end they couldn’t close the deal against Bledsoe and the Cowboys. In another shootout, the Rams held off the Titans. Including the one divisional game between the Seahawks and Cards, the average total points in the three games involving the NFC West was over 57 points this week. That’s not a lot of defense, but it’s just enough offense to maintain their tie for #6, keeping them one step ahead of the last place North.

#8 NFC North 1-6 (14%) 1-2 this week
The Packers start 0-3, losing at home multiple times, including a loss to the Bucs? I guess it didn’t drop below 40 degrees at Lambeau on Sunday. Over in Chicago, the Bears looked lost against the Bengals. But busting out in glorious offensive goodness, the Vikings have earned the North’s very first win for the season. Way to go, Minnesota!

Conference Ranking through Week 3

#1 AFC 6-6 (50%) 3-3 this week
#1 NFC 6-6 (50%) 3-3 this week

The NFC is hanging tough this season, splitting every week down the middle with the AFC. Once is a fluke, twice is suspicious, but three times is starting to resemble a trend. Could the conferences be evenly matched this year?

You are correct, and I completely misread your post. In fact, if anybody has ever been more wrong about anything I wasn’t there to see it. Sorry about that.

What’s going on with the Colts? A vastly improved defence is encouraging, but I can’t figure out why the offence keeps coming up busted. There hasn’t been that much of a change since last year.

Defenses are showing 3 man lines with 8 dropped back into coverage pre-snap, forcing Peyton to audible to the run, which he will do every time. (Despite his gaudy numbers last year, he is not a stat geek. He just wants the win.) But keep in mind that, while he did throw a pick against the Browns, he completed 19 of 23 passes, which is over 82%. So in short, nothing is going on with the Colts; Peyton is simply taking what the defenses are giving him.

Nice stats, I’d have to agree.

For the first time this season, there are no ties in the standings; every division holds their position uncontested.

NFL Division Rankings through Week 4

#1 NFC East 10-3 (77%) 3-1 this week
The Cowboys are really two plays away from being either 4-0 or 0-4. They are seriously riding the ragged edge of disaster down there, and staying on the west coast between weeks didn’t seem to change the status quo. The Eagles should have lost at Arrowhead, but managed to fight back and win, which is something they were inexperienced with and ill-equipped to do in the Superbowl last year. Meanwhile, the Giants pounded the Rams easily and the undefeated Redskins keep things rolling by the skin of their teeth. The East holds on to the top spot another week.

#2 NFC South 10-4 (71%) 4-0 this week
Well the South certainly reaped the benefits of the schedule this week, taking three wins at the expense of the woeful NFC North. The Panthers and Bucs hold off the Packers and Lions respectively, while the Falcons kicked the Vikings in the teeth. In other news, the Saints convincingly win their actual home opener at the expense of the fading Bills. The South remains at the #2 spot, but are starting to close in on the East.

#3 AFC North 7-4 (64%) 2-0 this week
It looks like the Ravens finally found an offense worse than theirs, and the Bengals showed some heart by pulling out a game they could have easily lost. Winning when you don’t play particularly well is the hallmark of a good team. Even with the Steelers on a bye, the North posted an undefeated week (helped by the Browns bye) and moved up from a tie for #3 to sole possession of #3.

#4 AFC West 5-5 (50%) 3-1 this week
The West was on a mission this week, not just for wins but for respect. The Raiders finally shed the “best winless team” descriptor at the expense of Parcell’s Cowboys, the Chargers manhandled the champs easily, and the Broncos exploited a bad day for the Jags. The Chiefs could have easily made it a 4-0 week, but McNabb and the Eagles were just too much for them. Still, a strong 3-1 showing moves the West up two spots from a tie at #6 to the #4 spot, which is fitting for their even record.

#5 AFC South 5-6 (45%) 0-2 this week
With the Colts and Titans playing each other, the reputation of the division rested squarely on the Texans and Jags. Oddly, the Texans looked competitive against the high flying Bengals, and it was the Jags who looked inept against the visiting Broncos. Either way, the winless week plummets the South down 2 spots from the tie at #3 to alone at #5.

#6 AFC East 5-8 (38%) 0-3 this week
Injuries are finally catching up with the Patriots, who had no answer for the Chargers in any phase of the game. The Jets, predictably, could do nothing with their emergency QB starting. Even covered in rust, Herm needs to start Vinny next week. Badly. Speaking of QB woes, the Billies have to be second guessing their decision to let Bledsoe go. The season is likely lost, but next year could be a breakout for Losman. Just keep telling yourself that Eli looked every bit as bad as Losman has in his first few starts, and look at Eli now. Plummeting below .500, the East drops a spot from #5 to #6, and prospects for the immediate future don’t look particularly encouraging.

#7 NFC West 2-6 (25%) 0-2 this week
Only two games played outside of the division, so of course the West lost them both. Winning a game would have meant a .500 week, which doesn’t even seem possible for the West. The Seahawks played tough and could have beaten the Redskins, but the Rams got used and abuse by the high flying Giants. It’s no picnic playing the best division in football, so the winless week wasn’t altogether unexpected. Still better than the North, the West drops out of the tie at #6 and clings to the #7 spot.

#8 NFC North 1-9 (10%) 0-3 this week
Yet another winless week for the North; that’s the third time in the last four weeks, which tells you all you need to know about this division. Three losses to the South shoots the South up the rankings, but does nothing to help the struggling North. At least they have a win.

Conference Ranking through Week 4

#1 NFC 8-7 (53%) 2-1 this week
#2 AFC 7-8 (47%) 1-2 this week

We may finally be witnessing a shift in the balance of power in the league. The rest of the AFC cannot overcome the struggling AFC East; the NFC has taken the lead for the first time in two years.

I love this thread. Thanks Ellis.

I find it interesting that the 3 strongest divisions are also the ones that have played the fewest division-only games so far. It’s going to be really interesting to see how the standings shake out once they start knocking each other around. But, their records against the rest of the league would make it seem a bit easier to figure out where the wild card teams and playoff upsets will be coming from.

I agree that it’s interesting how the better divisions seem to have already played more games outside their divisions. I can’t help but draw the parallel to golf; when two players are tied, whomever has completed more holes is considered to be winning. From that perspective, the NFC East & South have a nice cushion on the rest of the league.

As for the rest of your post, yeah, that’s pretty much my exact thinking and motivation with these standings. Well, honestly, I started last year because I realized that the NFC East – home to my beloved Giants – was leading the league after the first four weeks, and wanted to crow about it. But I’ve wondered about these standings for a few years now, and whether or not they would be good predictors for the playoffs. Last season I finally decided to track it, and they ended up being remarkably accurate. But there was one very odd exception: the worst division in football sent a wildcard team to the playoffs. Still not sure how to explain that one.

Of note is that the whole concept of “pride in the division” occured to me in the early nineties, when the NFC East won four consecutive Superbowls with three different teams. If I weren’t a Giants (or other NFC East team) fan, I likely would never have thought about what the “best division in football” really means. I can’t help but take this opportunity to poke fun at the redheaded stepchild of the East, the Philadelphia Eagles. Where’s the rings? Everyone else has at least two, and combine for ten Superbowl victories between them. Step it up, slackers, you’re making us look bad! hehheh.

Based on this year’s standings so far, the most interesting matchups should be between the NFC East and the AFC West. Keep an eye on those matchups all season long.

Just wanted to agree with Mullinator that this thread rocks. I make it a point to read this and Omniscient’s threads every week and often find myself agreeing or disagreeing with certain points, but never feeling strongly or knowledgable enough to actually post. Kudos to you both for your time and efforts, they aren’t unappreciated :slight_smile:

Since I’m actually posting, and you’re an NFC East fan, I’ll ask a question I’ve been wondering about since Sunday. See, I’m a 'Skins fan transplanted into the Seadogs broadcast range and only get a chance to see them play when they play the Sunday or Monday night games… or when they play Seattle. This past week I got to watch them play and was pretty impressed by their defense (despite eventually allowing a 90+ yard rusher). My question is in regards to one of the announcers of the game, while the camera was on Lavar Arrington on the sidelines, commenting that Arrington is getting less play time because Gibbs has said that he doesn’t fit into the defense that well.

I was under the impression that Arrington was an excellent LB with good speed and intuition. Good against the run and the pass. What then is it about the defense that he doesn’t fit into?

And on a completely different note, my boss is a huge Broncos fan… irritatingly so (they never got fined for cut-blocking, what are you talking about? Bailey for Portis, we so got the better end of the deal. Etc., etc.) and is trying to rib me into a small monetary bet on the game, but I’m not so sure the 'Skins can pull another one out. They’ve been winning ugly, and they certainly have the ability to stump Plummer (they did it for years when he was in AZ), but I’m just not sure about actually placing a wager on the game. Any thoughts on the matter?

Redskins defense: Temptations, not Gladys Knight. In a nutshell, he’s akin to having Ray Lewis on the Patriots. While I’m sure they’d like to have him now, considering all their injuries, Lewis is bit too much of a superstar to blend in with the team concept of the Patriots. Same deal with Arrington on the Redskins.

You know I can’t handicap games to save my life. I’d say to go with the spread picker, but it has no opinion on that game. I doubt I’ll have any pick on that game whatsoever. If it were me, I’d take the Redskins without hesitation. (I’ve picked the Giants all four weeks as games to “book”, and they’ve covered three out of four times. But I’m crazy like that…I’ll always bet my own teams without a second thought, regardless of who they play.)

Informative link, thank you. I hope he can find a way to fit in, I like the guy… but then again, it might help the cap to trade him. Would hate to face a team he fits in well with though; he’s had moments that reminded me of a young LT (the original one of course, Tomlinson needs a differentiating set of initials).

Hmm. I think I’ll stick with my semi-superstitious habit of not betting on my own team in that case.

Riding high on three close, emotional games over questionable teams, and heading into the hostility (fanwise as well as environmental) of Mile High… I fear I’m not going to hear the end of it for a while. It’d be great to look at the team stats and expect the 'Skins to shut down the run and make Plummer win it for them while hoping Portis gets driven enough to have a big game, but realisitically, I think the defense might get burned repeatedly by those bootlegs Shanahan loves so much.