NFL Power Rankings Week 15: Ranking the 8 Divisions

Soven BerySenior Analyst IDecember 15, 2011

NFL Power Rankings Week 15: Ranking the 8 Divisions

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    Teams.

    When you think of NFL power rankings, that must be the first word that comes to your head. Well, today I'm taking a different approach. Instead of power-ranking the teams, I'm power-ranking the divisions of the NFL. 

    Which division is the best? Which division is the worst? What about the ones in between? All those questions and more will be answered today in these NFL power rankings. 

    The only criteria are that all the teams must be able to be competitive in games. I don't care much for 13-0 teams if all the other teams are garbage. 

    Please feel free to sound off your opinions in the comment section. Let's begin! 

8. NFC West

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    Combined Record: 24-28 

    Yes, the San Francisco 49ers are sitting pretty atop the division at 10-3. That's not what bothers me. What bothers me are the rest of the teams. 

    While the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals are hitting their stride as of late, both clubs have a pitiful 6-7 record. 

    And don't even get me started about the 2-11 St. Louis Rams.

    The team that came within one game of the division crown last year is now the resident bottom dweller. All in all, this is a division in need of major renovations in order to be good. 

7. AFC West

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    Combined Record: 26-26 

    The AFC division in the western region is not too good either. While all the teams are competitive for the division crown, none of the teams are elite. 

    The Tebow-led Broncos are on top of the division with an 8-5 record. Not surprisingly that is the worst record for any division leader in the NFL. 

    The Oakland Raiders are one game behind but, after dropping two games in a row to Miami and Green Bay, are left with a 7-6 record and now face Detroit, Kansas City and San Diego. 

    In the bottom of the division are two colossal disappointments.

    The Chargers (6-7) and the Chiefs (5-8) make up the bottom half. While both teams had high expectations going into this season, none of them have reached those goals. Whether it has been because of injuries or just poor play, 2011 has not been a good year for this division. 

6. AFC South

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    Combined Record: 21-31 

    The 4-9 Jacksonville Jaguars and the winless Colts are definitely bringing down this division. The Houston Texans are on their third quarterback, T.J Yates, and have already captured the division title with a 10-3 record. 

    In second place are the Tennessee Titans, who have surprised many experts this year to be in the running for the AFC wild card. Right now they stand at 7-6 but are without QB Matt Hasselbeck for now. 

    Then comes the bottom half. While the Jags have key wins against the Ravens and Buccaneers, overall things are not looking up in Jacksonville. 

    The Colts will just be sucking for Luck the rest of the year as well as bringing the AFC South down in the power rankings. 

5. NFC East

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    Combined Record: 23-29 

    This has to be one of the best division races in the NFL today. Both the Giants and the Cowboys are tied with a 7-6 record. I have a feeling that these two teams will be battling down to the wire. A New Year's showdown in New York looms between the two and could decide the division title and the playoff picture. 

    That's when the division fall out begins. The only award that the Philadelphia Eagles will win this year is the Biggest Disappointment. The Dream Team has become a nightmare for the city of Brotherly Love. Philly has a 5-8 record and mostly everyone there has given up at this point. 

    The Washington Redskins started the season 3-1 but then lost eight of nine for a 4-9 record right now. Clearly Grossman and Beck is not working in our nation's capital, and the 'Skins should try to pick up Robert Griffin III in the draft. 

    The days of the NFC East ruling the NFL are over. 

4. NFC South

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    Combined Record: 26-26

    OK, so their combined record isn't that great. It's average. But these teams are a lot better than that record. New Orleans has one of the best offenses in the league and it shows every single weekend. The Saints have clinched the division at 10-3. 

    Atlanta is 8-5 and are deep in the hunt for the NFC wild card. Once the Falcons are in the playoffs, Matty Ice and company have a good shot at making a run. 

    The Carolina Panthers have been a pleasant surprise this year and while their 4-9 record doesn't show it, they have been decent. The defense needs to get better, but Cam Newton is the front-runner for the ROY and the run game has been playing at a high level.

    The only disappointment has been the 4-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many thought that Josh Freeman and the Bucs would be able to turn their success last year into a playoff bid. Alas, that was not the case. 

    But besides Tampa Bay, the NFC South looked pretty good this year. 

3. AFC East

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    Combined Record: 27-25

    The AFC East has not been as prominent as it has been in recent years but it still has been very dominant this season. The 10-3 New England Patriots are the front-runners for the division crown and only have lost to division foe Buffalo, New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. 

    The 8-5 New York Jets have two division losses to the New England Patriots. Mark Sanchez and company also lost to three good teams in the Broncos, Raiders and Ravens. Gang Green is hitting its stride right on time and is looking for a playoff berth. 

    The Bills started off the season 5-2 and smelled postseason. Since then, though, Buffalo has fallen apart. Though I was never on the Bills bandwagon, they are a solid team and should be thinking over .500 next year. 

    Since starting 0-7, the Miami Dolphins have gone 4-2 and seem to be looking good as of late. They played competitively at Dallas losing by one on Thanksgiving. With a good QB such as Matt Barkley or RG3, this is a Dolphins team that looks very good. The defense is ranked third at defending the run, and with a few more breaks this team could have had a much better record. 

    The AFC East is tough and I would fear playing here. 

2. NFC North

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    Combined Record: 30-22

    This might be the best division in football if the Vikings were a bit better than 2-11. Next year this division might rule the NFL with Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson playing well. Last week, the Vikes needed another minute to send the game vs. Detroit into overtime. They didn't get it. 

    Sure, the 13-0 Packers are a big reason why this division is ranked so high, but the other two teams are very good as well and should be feared in the NFL. The 8-5 Lions are looking for a wild-card berth. Megatron and company have only lost to very good teams and own signature wins over Chicago and Dallas. 

    This Bears team is also fighting for a playoff berth but things are not looking up in the Windy City after Jay Cutler went down. Chicago was 7-3 before dropping the next three with Caleb Hanie under center.

    Make no mistake: With Cutler, this team is elite. Even without Cutler, this is a good team and just a part of why the AFC North is one of the best divisions in football.  

1. AFC North

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    Combined Record: 31-21 

    Without a doubt in my mind, the AFC North, from top to bottom, is the best division in the NFL. Baltimore and Pittsburgh make up one of the best modern rivalries in the sport. They hate each other so much and whenever these two teams meet, it's must-watch football. 

    Throw a red-hot Cincinnati team in the mix and you have one great division. The 7-6 Bengals are deep in the chase for the wild card and have only lost in division as well as to Denver, San Fran and Houston by one. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green should make this division fun to watch in the coming years. 

    Pittsburgh is 10-3 and besides losing by a touchdown in Houston, the Steelers has only lost in division. Pittsburgh is one of the better teams in the AFC and is a team made for the playoffs. Expect a deep run again for the Steelers. 

    The Ravens are also tied for first in the AFC North and own quality wins over Pittsburgh, NY Jets, Houston, Cincy and San Fran. The Ravens are battling for the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the division crown. 

    I said that this is the best division in football top to bottom. The top is great, the middle is great and even the bottom is good. The 4-9 Cleveland Browns are the best bottom dwellers in the league. I would take them over Kansas City. 

    This is a very, very good division and should get even better down the road.