NFL Realignment Plan: A Change For The Better

Joey GrissoContributor ISeptember 24, 2009

ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 1:  Running back Kevin Jones #34 of the Detroit Lions runs with the ball against the St. Louis Rams at Edward Jones Dome on October 1, 2006 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams defeated the Lions 41-34.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Fellow NFL fans, I am not sure if you have looked at the divisions lately, but some of these groupings are just downright laughable. I mean, St. Louis in a Western division? Dallas over in the east? Indianapolis down south? What else I don't like about these divisions, besides the fact it doesn't give cross conference rivalries like the one between my Niners and the Raiders to thrive, is the fact that some teams have it easier than other. Well, a lot easier. For example, if Baltimore does't challenge one year, the Steelers only need to fend off Cleveland and Cincinnati, two rebuilding teams, to take the division crown, whereas a team like the Eagles will have a lot more work on their hands. (Dallas and New York don't give up the division as easily as Cincy and Cleveland.) So, I have designed a realignment plan that will not only conform more closely with the geographical locations of the teams, but level the playing field a little as well. Here it is, by conference and division.

(Conferences now Eastern/Western instead of AFC/NFC.)

Western Conference

Pacific Division

Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers

Perhaps the most sensible division, this enables the Seahawks-Niners rivalry, as well as the Chargers-Raiders one, to continue while giving the Battle of the Bay a chance to thrive. And since all of the teams are on the Pacific coast, the name even makes sense as well. A good division, both for geographical and rivalry continuation purposes. 

Southwestern Division

Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys

While no existing rivalries are brought over into this division, at least one new one should occur. The "Texas State Rivalry Game", or whatever it will come to be called, would pit the Lone Star State's lone teams together twice a year. Arizona and Denver are just stand-ins- they seemed to fit in the Southwest and there was no other logical place to put them. But who knows? Perhaps they may develop a "Four Corners" rivalry, or something along that matter. But geographically speaking, you cannot sensibly argue this division.

Northwestern Division

Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts

Basically, with this division, I took the existing NFC North, gave it a slick new name, and added competition by dumping the Lions and adding the Colts, who have no business being in the South anyway. No complaints here, at least that I can think of.

West Central Division

Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs

This division is one of my two "weakling" divisions, compromising of rebuilding teams that most people would love to finally see win a division. It also makes sense geographically, since most of the teams have a pretty central location in the United States. Again, if you have complaints, I would love to hear them, because I can't really see any.

Eastern Conference

Northeastern Division

New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens

One of my stronger division's, this pairs the two Big Apple teams alongside the pats and the on again, off again contenders, the Baltimore Ravens. I would love to see Sanchez take on Flacco and Manning as well as Brady, as would a lot of people. It makes sense geographically, too, since all of the teams are either in New York, Massachusetts, or Maryland. A good division by all means.

Southeastern Division

New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins

Basically, the NFC South renamed and made more mediocre by taking out the falcons and throwing in the Dolphins. So what we are left with is a middle of the road division that makes as much sense geographically as the old NFC South. Pretty good idea, if you ask me.

East Central Division

Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers

The exact opposite of the West Central Division, the division consists of teams that many people would love to see battle each other out, creating many great match ups. This is the point where the division names start not making any sense... I grouped the other eight Eastern teams into appropriate divisions, and then created a contender and rebuilding division and gave them semi- random names. The result is this and the...

Mid- Atlantic Division

Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars

Hey, you have to call them something, right? Although the name makes absolutely no sense, (Buffalo and Cleveland are located inland, and Jacksonville is not exactly what you would call "Mid- Atlantic") the purpose, to create another weakling division in the East, does. This will give Buffalo, Washington, Jacksonville, and Cleveland faithful a chance to- gasp- see their teams win a division, something I am not sure they have much experience of.


Will be conducted in the same way as the NFL does today, with the division winners taking seeds 1-4 and the wild cards grabbing seeds 5 and 6. Everything will be done the same way- only with different conferences and divisions that make more sense than the ones we have now.