NFC East: A Strong Division with Playoff Contenders
Last season, the NFC East might have been the strongest division. No team would have a losing record, with three making the playoffs and the Philadelphia Eagles representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. Despite the Eagles going through offensive and defensive coordinator changes, with free agents leaving, they managed to keep the core together, retooling in the draft. For the most part, a dominant offense was kept intact, and an elite defense got younger.
The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants make up the middle of the division, both gaining the playoffs in 2022. This offseason, neither team made splash moves to get better but filled positions of need and had good drafts, both gradually improving. The Washington Commanders, though they have a solid team led by the defense, are trying to find more offense in the offseason to move up the standings.
Next is the NFC North, which might be one of the more interesting divisions. The Minnesota Vikings won it, but they had a -3 score deferential. Then, the usual winners of the division, the Green Bay Packers, traded star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, opening up the position for Jordan Love.
Finally, after a 9-8 season, the Detroit Lions are the media darling heading into the new season, with everyone expecting them to make a jump, after an impressive offseason, possibly winning this division. Last but not least, the Chicago Bears tried to make improvements in free agency and the draft, but they still look at least a year away from making noise.
Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints: Teams in Transition
On the other hand, the NFC South could end up being the worst division in the NFL. It was already last season, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning the division with an 8-9 record. Furthermore, after Tom Brady retired, free agents left, and a brutal cap situation, the Buccaneers might only get worse.
The other NFC South teams all finished with a 7-10 record. The Carolina Panthers traded for the No.1 pick, selecting quarterback Bryce Young, who will take time to get accustomed to life in the NFL. Next is the New Orleans Saints, who somehow managed to sign quarterback Derek Carr while keeping the core of the roster intact, giving them a chance to win the division, primarily because of how bad it is.
Finally, the Atlanta Falcons did their best to get better this season, adding key defensive players by spending in free agency and having a good draft. They could end up being a shocking division winner, and going from last to first.
San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks: Fierce Rivals at the Top
The last division in the NFC is the West, which is a little top-heavy. The San Francisco 49ers have one of the top rosters in the league and made the conference championship game despite having three separate starting quarterbacks throughout the season. Their main competition is the Seattle Seahawks, who used the draft to stack an already good roster with two key first-round picks.
The Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals seem headed into a rebuild after the 2022 season. Injuries to their starting quarterback also ravaged each team, but they did not make any moves to challenge for the division in the offseason.
NFL Conference Structure: AFC and NFC Divisions Explained
Now shifting to the AFC, who have some really good divisions. However, it is hard not to start with the AFC West, home of the Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. Even with the team losing an offensive coordinator and some wide receivers, it’s hard not to trust the defending MVP, Patrick Mahomes.
While the Chiefs have a clear hold on the division, it will be competitive for second place. The Los Angeles Chargers made the playoffs in 2022, with 10 wins, using the offseason to add depth. For the Las Vegas Raiders, they are trying to change their team identity and have a talented roster, but still feel incomplete. Similarly, the Denver Broncos hired a new head coach, Sean Payton, and spent big in free agency to fix quarterback Russell Wilson after a shockingly bad season.
However, the AFC East might be the most competitive division in the conference. The last winner was the Buffalo Bills, who have one of the best quarterbacks in the game in Josh Allen. The Miami Dolphins followed that, with possibly the best roster in the entire league, having an exciting offense and talented defense.
The division is closed out by the New England Patriots, a team unmatched in recent history success under Bill Belichick. Finally, the New York Jets just traded for Rodgers, a quarterback that won the MVP in 2020 and 2021. The Jets also had the 2022 Defensive and Offensive Rookie of the Year.
After that, the divisions don’t get much easier with the AFC North. The Cincinnati Bengals won the division, making it to the conference championship game, and were in the Super Bowl in the 2021 season, then addressed their biggest need, offensive line, in free agency. The Baltimore Ravens were not too far behind, winning 10 games, playing the final six weeks without the former MVP Lamar Jackson, who just signed a massive contract to stay with the team.
On top of that, the Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to have a losing season under head coach Mike Tomlin, who always finds a way to win. That might not happen this season, with the Steelers not doing much in the offseason, while the Cleveland Browns hope having 17 games of Deshaun Watson can improve their record.
Lastly, the AFC South may be the worst division in the conference. At the bottom of the table are the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts, who drafted new quarterbacks after having the two worst records in the AFC in 2022. They will probably stay at the bottom.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were a surprise division winner, having an improved offense and defense after a big 2021 offseason. They did little to improve, but neither did their main contender, the Tennessee Titans. Injuries weighed down the Titans last season, and they hope being healthy can lead to a better outcome in 2023.
Since its merger in 1966 with the AFL, the NFL has been comprised of two conferences. Those two conferences are the AFC and the NFC. And since 2002, those two conferences have had four separate divisions. The four divisions are as follows: East, West, North, and South. These divisions are the same in both conferences. Each division is also made up of four teams.
Here is a list of the teams in each conference, broken down by their division:
- Denver Broncos
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Las Vegas Raiders
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Baltimore Ravens
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Cleveland Browns
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Houston Texans
- Indianapolis Colts
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Tennessee Titans
- Arizona Cardinals
- Los Angeles Rams
- San Francisco 49ers
- Seattle Seahawks
- Dallas Cowboys
- New York Giants
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Washington Football Team
- Chicago Bears
- Detroit Lions
- Green Bay Packers
- Minnesota Vikings
- Atlanta Falcons
- Carolina Panthers
- New Orleans Saints
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Some of the NFL Divisions are more competitive than others. Others, like the AFC East, have had one team dominate the division. For 20 years, from 2000 to 2020, the New England Patriots dominated the AFC East. Behind coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots won the AFC East division 17 times. So during the Belichick/Brady years, it was a sure bet that they would win their division.
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