It took 14 weeks of the NFL season for the NFC East to lose the top spot in the NFL Division Power Rankings, but after Week 14, it has finally happened.
The NFC East went 0-2 in non-divisional games in Week 14 and was jumped by the idle NFC South in the rankings. In the NFC East, the Cowboys fell to the Steelers and the Redskins were beaten by the Ravens.
As the playoff picture begins to form in the NFC, it is clear that all of the teams in the NFC East and NFC South are not only battling each other for divisional bragging rights, but also for the available playoff spots. The NFC South’s current lead in the rankings is reflected in the fact that currently three NFC South teams would be in the playoffs to the NFC East’s one.
Here are the updating conference standings for non-divisional games after Week 14 (Rank, Team, Record, Average Margin):
1. NFC South: 24-8 (7.06)
2. NFC East: 24-9-1 (6.47)
3. AFC South: 22-12 (3.53)
4. AFC East: 21-13 (2.94)
5. AFC North: 16-17-1 (0.35)
6. NFC North: 10-22 (-3.47)
7. AFC West: 8-24 (-7.13)
8. NFC West: 8-26 (-9.26)
The flip-flop of the NFC South and NFC East was the only change in the rankings for this week. The NFC South has eight remaining non-divisional games in the three weeks that remain of the season, and the NFC East has six. To move back into the top division, the NFC East will need some non-divisional losses from the AFC South teams.
The AFC North continues to fall just shy of .500 on the season, as wins by the Steelers and Raven continue to be offset by losses from the Browns and Bengals.
The NFC West got a big non-divisional victory on Sunday as the 49ers defeated the Jets out of the AFC East. The battle to stay out of the last spot between the AFC West and NFC West is just as close as the race for first place in the divisional rankings.
Some of the key non-divisional pairings for Week 15 to look forward to are:
Saints vs. Bears
Panthers vs. Broncos
Redskins vs. Bengals
Eagles vs. Browns
Raiders vs. Patriots
49ers vs. Dolphins
Cardinals vs. Vikings
The NFC South and NFC East both have two non-divisional games in Week 15. Both of the games for the NFC East teams look to be more favorable matchups than the games for the NFC South teams.
The Saints take on the Bears and the Panthers play the Broncos, both opponents that have winning records. On the other hand, the Eagles meet the Browns and the Redskins square off against the Bengals, opponents with a combined record of 5-20-1.
The AFC West and NFC West also each have two non-divisional games in Week 15, as each division looks for a win anywhere possible to avoid the cellar of the divisional power rankings. Unfortunately for both of these divisions, all of these games are against opponents with winning records.