The NFL has finally returned, and with week 1 in the books, it’s time to once again see how the divisions stack up to one another. Before we get to that, here’s the complete history of how the divisions have ranked since realignment:
AFC West…#2 24-16…t4 19-21…#3 22-18…t1 24-16…#1 89-71…(56%)
AFC East…#3 23-17…#1 24-16…#1 25-15…t7 16-24…#2 88-72…(55%)
NFC South…#1 25-14-1…t4 19-21…t5 19-21…#4 21-19…#3 84-75-1 (52.8%)
NFC East…#4 22-18…t4 19-21…t5 19-21…t1 24-16…#4 84-76…(52.5%)
AFC South…#5 19-21…#2 22-18…#4 21-19…#5 20-20…#5 82-78…(51%)
AFC North…#7 16-23-1…#8 17-23…#2 24-16…#3 22-18…#6 79-80-1 (50%)
NFC West…#6 17-23…#3 21-19…#8 13-27…t7 16-24…#7 67-93…(42%)
NFC North…#8 13-27…t4 19-21…#7 17-23…#6 17-23…#8 66-94…(41%)
AFC…#1 34-29-1…#1 34-30…#1 44-20…#1 34-30…#1 146-109-1 (57%)
NFC…#2 29-34-1…#2 30-34…#2 20-44…#2 30-34…#2 109-146-1 (43%)
2006 begins with bizarro week, with the best and worst divisions from last year flip flopping. It will be interesting to see how long that lasts.
NFL Division Rankings through Week 1
#1 NFC West 2-0 (100%)
Dead last since realignment, the West looks to start fresh in 2006, with an impressive undefeated week right out of the gate. Unfortunately, neither the Seahawks nor the Rams managed to get into the endzone, winning their games with a combined nine field goals. As ugly as that sounds, the West can be thankful that the NFL isn’t the NCAA; a win is a win. It doesn’t get any better than perfect, so for now last year’s co-worst division sits alone on top of the heap.
#2 AFC North 3-1 (75%)
The Steelers look good no matter how you slice it, with apologies to Big Ben for using the word “slice.” That’s not the news coming out of the North; the story here is that the Ravens have a bonafide offense with Steve McNair at the helm, and their defense hung an impressive goose-egg on the reeling Bucs. In other news, Carson Palmer showed no lingering injury affects as he led the Bengals to a nice win at Arrowhead. Only the Browns lost, but at least they were competitive against the Saints. 3-1 is a great showing in any week, and it gives the North a stranglehold on the #2 spot.
#3 NFC South 1-1 (50%)
Not sure what to think about this division. The two playoff teams from last year got spanked to the tune of a combined 47-6, including the division winner getting shut out. The Panthers have a habit of losing on opening day to lesser teams, but still. The drubbing that the Bucs endured was offset by the feel-good story of the Saints pulling out a win in Sean Payton’s debut, so the South gets off to a rocky .500 start, which is good enough to tie with three other teams for the #3 spot.
#3 AFC East 1-1 (50%)
Eric Mangini got his first win as a head coach in his first game, which is always a nice way to start. The Magic 8-ball says he shouldn’t get used to it, even though The Chad and his squirtgun arm turned in the best performance of any QB this week. Back on Thursday, the Dolphins weren’t up to the task of beating the World Champs, even without their snake-bit signal-caller in the lineup. Dead even is a strong showing here in week one, so the East finds itself tied for the #3 spot.
#3 AFC South 2-2 (50%)
The South posted a nice 2-1 record against the NFC East this week, but the Titans are in the midst of a multi-year rebuilding effort and it showed against the equally-rebuilding Jets. With the Colts’ conspicuous lack of a running game, look for the Jaguars to carry this division. Dead even is good enough for a piece of the #3 spot.
#3 NFC North 1-1 (50%)
The Vikings held tough against the Redskins, who would have forced overtime if not for the last minute shank by former Jetskin John Hall. And up in dome country, Mike Martz’ genius apparently takes some time to manifest, as the Lions showed no offense whatsoever against the Seahawks. Luckily, dead even is a respectable enough showing to land the North in four-way tie for the #3 spot.
#7 NFC East 1-3 (25%)
Oh how the worm has turned. After tieing for best division in football last year, the East drops all the way down to seventh place. On the bright side, all three losses were competitive. Eli posted better numbers than big brother, the Cowboys had the Jags in hand until Bledsoe had one of his patented meltdowns, and Brunell and Co. took the Vikings down to the wire. The bad news is that the East can’t find a kicker, with Jay Feely, John Hall and Mike Vanderjagt’s understudy all missing important kicks. Meanwhile, claiming a mulligan for 2005, the Eagles sit alone atop the division after beating up on the Texans. One win is better than no wins, so the East avoids the cellar by the slimmest of margins.
#8 AFC West 0-2 (0%)
Herm Edwards can’t get away from serious QB injuries no matter where he goes. Trent Green’s loss of consciousness after his head slammed into the turf looks to keep him out for several weeks, but they are confident enough in his return not to look for a free agent named Volek. They may not be aware that their backup is Damon Huard… Meanwhile, the Broncos continue their recent trend of losing to lesser teams on opening day, and Plummer’s three picks already has the fanbase agitating for Jay Cutler. The first win is the hardest, and it’ll take until at least week 2 for the West to get theirs. From first to worst is apparently a very short trip, as last year’s co-best division sits alone at dead last.
Conference Ranking through Week 1
#1 AFC 3-3 (50%)
#1 NFC 3-3 (50%)
A whole lot of action, signifying nothing. Well, actually just the fact that the NFC is even is notable, since the NFC has yet to stay even with the AFC since realignment. A cynical person would blame the Seahawks for this, but they did their part this week. We’ll see how long this parity lasts.