NFL Division Power Rankings

Every sport has power rankings and the NFL’s are a weekly ritual for any sports-writing website that covers the game. Using a combination of record, strength of schedule, and the team’s position moving forward, power rankings are one way for a fan to see how their team stacks up against the league in a deeper way than simply looking at the standings. Given the smaller schedule, an NFL team only plays forty percent of the other teams in the league in a season, not including the post-season. With six of the sixteen games scheduled to be played against three divisional opponents, a team’s divisional strength can affect its chances at winning it all almost as much as the skill of the team itself. This power ranking will try to uncover which of the leagues divisions is the strongest based on its current standings, post-season odds, and an analysis of the teams within it.

 

0578490001455745717_filepicker1. AFC West

Standings

Win Differential- +7 (2)

Point Differential- +90 (2)

Strength of Schedule- 0.502 (4)

Post-Season Odds

Average Chance of Making Playoffs- 53.75% (1)

Total Super Bowl Odds- 21% (1)

Analysis

The AFC West takes the top spot amongst the divisions because this division is the one most likely hiding the Super Bowl Champion. While they may be tied for first with the AFC East for Super Bowl odds, their odds are spread amongst their top three teams. Their point differential also gives them separation from the rest of the AFC and not a single team in the division is negative in this important statistic. The only real knock against them is that they are playing half of their games against the two worst divisions in the league.

2. AFC East0408708001462828991_filepicker

Standings

Win Differential- +2 (3)

Point Differential- +51 (3)

Strength of Schedule- 0.523 (3)

Post-Season Odds

Average Chance of Making Playoffs- 40% (4)

Total Super Bowl Odds- 21% (1)

Analysis

Yes this division is skewed in every category because of the Patriot’s modern dominance of the NFL. According to five thirty-eight the Pats have a 17% chance of winning the Super Bowl, highest in the league, but all this means for the other three teams is that they have the greatest challenge in the NFL in taking down the Patriots. Buffalo’s 16-0 shutout along with their recent streak of wins has put them in a viable position to be a wildcard threat. Miami has also shown some promise in its close call with Seattle and big win over the Steelers. While the Patriots have been and will continue to be the team to beat, the rest of the division could be real competitors in some other divisions that don’t have to play Tom Brady twice a year.

3. NFC EastDAL NYG PHI

Standings

Win Differential- +8 (1)

Point Differential- +109 (1)

Strength of Schedule- 0.472 (7)

Post-Season Odds

Average Chance of Making Playoffs- 45.25% (2)

Total Super Bowl Odds- 11% (5)

Analysis

After being the worst division in the league last year, the NFC East turned from laughing stock of the league to the future with promising rookies from its top two teams. Currently sitting on top as far as wins and points go, the main things holding this division back are time and itself. With the Eagles and Cowboys riding high on rookie quarterbacks and the painful memory of last year’s terrible showing, the sample size is not quite large enough to definitively put this division on top.

4. NFC North0440430001473178846_filepicker

Standings

Win Differential-  +2 (3)

Point Differential- +4 (4)

Strength of Schedule- 0.468 (8)

Post-Season Odds

Average Chance of Making Playoffs- 43.75% (3)

Total Super Bowl Odds- 17% (3)

Analysis

Until this past Sunday, the NFC North had the only undefeated team win the league and that team still looks like it could run away with the title after a traumatic offseason. Aside from the lowly Bears, the rest of the division looks good especially when compared to the 2nd and 3rd teams from other divisions lower down the list. As of right now it looks like this division will split the wild card with the East, but the Lions are looking to challenge that outcome with a three game winning streak. It would not be a surprise to find one of these teams playing in the big game.

5. NFC West091110_nfc-west

Standings

Win Differential- -3 (5)

Point Differential- -33 (5)

Strength of Schedule- 0.545 (1)

Post-Season Odds

Average Chance of Making Playoffs- 32.75% (5)

Total Super Bowl Odds- 16% (4)

Analysis

 This was supposed to be the toughest division in football, between the improved play of the Rams and 49r’s and the two looming birds of Arizona and Seattle. So far Seattle has been good, but chinks in the armor are beginning to show after starting the season with a close call and a loss to two bottom level teams. Arizona has thus far been the second biggest disappointment, after the last finisher of the second lowest division. Losses to a Bradyless Patriots and a tie with their greatest competition in the division are killing the Super Bowl fever that surrounded the team in the offseason. The Rams have actually somewhat exceeded their low expectations after being shut out by the worst team in the division. This division could still prove deadly in the postseason, but for now they more accurately reflect Arizona .500 record.

6. AFC Northafcnorth

Standings

Win Differential- -8 (8)

Point Differential- -85 (7)

Strength of Schedule- 0.476 (6)

Post-Season Odds

Average Chance of Making Playoffs- 29% (6)

Total Super Bowl Odds- 5% (6)

Analysis

This division started out so promising. The Ravens were undefeated, the Steelers offense looked unstoppable, and the Bengals were nipping at both team’s heels. Fast forward a few weeks and those top three teams have the same record as the flaming roadkill that is the AFC South. The Steelers have potential, especially with a bye week for Big Ben to heal, but there is no excuse for their 34-3 shellacking from the Eagles and a blowout loss to the Dolphins. The Ravens and Bengals have time to cover some ground, but won’t be able to do that with negative point differentials. And then there’s the Cleveland Browns. They’re actually the main reason that this division is ranked above the NFC and AFC South, as they are unfairly responsible for the abysmal win and point differential. The best part of this division is that each team knows it gets to play Cleveland twice.

7. NFC Southmd-nfcsouthteams1

Standings

Win Differential- -5 (7)

Point Differential- -35 (6)

Strength of Schedule- 0.539 (2)

Post-Season Odds

Average Chance of Making Playoffs- 28% (7)

Total Super Bowl Odds- 3% (7)

Analysis

This is a division made up of some solid offense and tissue-paper defense. Unfortunately for the NFC South, defense is a more reliable indicator of who’s leaving winter with new rings. Barring a predictable collapse, the Falcons seem to be the favorite in the division, but could easily be outpaced by the Bucs or Saints if they don’t pull it together. The fact that the division is tied for last in Super Bowl odds while having the Super Bowl runner-up speaks to how bad this division actually is. A team that went 15-1 last year is now 1-5, with almost no hope of even returning to the playoffs without the whole division playing like they’re from Cleveland.

8. AFC Southafcsouth

Standings

Win Differential- -3 (5)

Point Differential- -101 (8)

Strength of Schedule- 0.477 (5)

Post-Season Odds

Average Chance of Making Playoffs- 27.25% (8)

Total Super Bowl Odds- 3% (7)

Analysis

Here it is, the worst division in the NFL. The AFC South is easily last place because it is the only division in the league in which every team has a negative point differential, which is how they can somehow have a lower point differential than a division that has the Cleveland Browns, who have a -77 differential. The only reason their win differential isn’t lower is because they get to play each other. That won’t help them in the postseason, where, at best, they will send a single team with 9-7 record. The Texans, currently the best they have to offer, have a -37 point differential, second only to the Jaguar’s -43 in the South. There is really nothing remarkable about this division, as they aren’t even the best at being the worst thanks to an 0-7 Browns.

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