NFC South: The NFL's Best Division
Throughout the season, I have tracked the performance of each division’s cumulative record against non-divisional opponents. Upon the conclusion of the NFL Regular Season last weekend, the NFC South claimed the title for best division.
The NFC South went 1-1 in non-divisional games in Week 17, as the Falcons beat the Rams but the Buccaneers fell to the Raiders.
The win from the Falcons proved to be enough for the NFC South, because the NFC East went 0-2 in non-divisional games in Week 17. The Giants lost to the Vikings and the Redskins lost to the 49ers.
The NFC South finished the season with a record of 28-12 in non-divisional games. On the season, when an NFC South team met a team from another division the average outcome was the NFC South team winning by 6.48 points (nearly a touchdown).
The dominance of the NFC South as a division is also easily seen from each of its teams. In addition to the top two NFC South teams qualifying for the playoffs, each of the other two could have easily been participants as well. Every team in the division finished with a winning percentage at or above .500.
Here are the final conference standings for non-divisional games for the 2008 NFL Season (Rank, Team, Record, Average Margin):
1. NFC South: 28-12 (6.48)
2. NFC East: 26-13-1 (5.65)
3. AFC East: 26-14 (4.30)
4. AFC South: 26-14 (3.18)
5. AFC North: 20-19-1 (0.53)
6. NFC North: 13-27 (-3.73)
7. AFC West: 11-29 (-6.50)
8. NFC West: 10-30 (-9.30)
After the NFC South, the NFC East was the next best NFL division in 2008. The tie for the Eagles against the Bengals earlier in the season pushed their record to be slightly better than both the AFC East and AFC South.
The AFC East and AFC South tied with regards to cumulative record in non-divisional games for the season, but the AFC East gets the third spot in the rankings because of a more impressive average margin.
The AFC North, after hovering just below the .500 mark for most of the latter part of the season, finished the season with a winning record in non-divisional games after going 2-0 in Week 17.
The NFC North finished as the sixth-best division, the spot they held for nearly all of the NFL Season.
The AFC West won a tight race with the NFC West to stay out of the last spot in the rankings with several key victories in the last weeks of the season in non-divisional games.
In addition to finishing last, the NFC West also had an average margin of losing by 9.3 points per game in non-divisional games for the season.
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