The NFL consists of 32 teams, and since 2002 every team has been distributed into a division which consists of four teams. The realignment got rid of the old AFC Central, and introduced the newly formed AFC North.
Since the realignment, there has been a yearly debate as to which division is the best in the league. With that being said, it’s time to broach the subject again, heading into the 2022 regular season.
Let’s go by division and try to hash out which division is the best in the league...
(*- 2021 Division Winner)
(+- 2021 Playoff Team)
The AFC North has been a bloodbath of a division since it was created. Entering 2022 you would be hard pressed to find a team who would be considered a lower tier team. Some may consider the Steelers to be that team, or the Browns without Deshaun Watson, but there is no doubt the AFC North will continue to be as tough as always.
The AFC East was once a laughing stock of teams who were trying to compete with New England, but not anymore. Miami has been adding talent, the Patriots seem to be finding their footing with Mac Jones at quarterback and the Buffalo Bills are the front-runners again. The Jets, while young, are also a vastly improved roster. Don’t sleep on the AFC East in 2022.
If there is a division in the AFC which is considered a laughing stock, it’s the AFC South. The Colts seem to be the cream of the crop, if Matt Ryan can become the steadying force the team needs at quarterback. Tennessee will be tough as always, but Jacksonville and Houston drag this division down when comparing them to the rest of the divisions.
What might possibly be the most complete division in the league is the AFC West. When you think about the high-powered offenses each team possesses, this will be a tough division to predict. Whichever team escapes unscathed might be the most battle tested in the playoffs...if they are still standing when they get there.
The Packers will again be the toughest team in this division, but the Vikings will be pushing to get their name in the conversation. Will Chicago improve? Only if their quarterback can stay healthy. As for Detroit, they, like the Jets in the AFC, are a team making some good moves, but I don’t think they’re a finished product yet.
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers will be the team to beat, especially with Matt Ryan out of Atlanta and being replaced by Marcus Mariota. Jameis Winston continues to rehab his injured knee, and no one knows who the quarterback will be for the Panthers this season. The NFC South is a very top-heavy division.
There was a time when the NFC East was called the NFC Least, and while it isn’t the toughest division, in my opinion, it is an improving division. The Giants under newly minted head coach Brian Daboll, the Eagles with Jalen Hurts at the helm, look to compete with the Cowboys for NFC East supremacy. The Commanders with Carson Wentz leave a lot to be desired, and are likely to be bottom dwellers in 2022.
The NFC West has long been known as one of the toughest divisions, but with Seattle going into rebuild mode after the Russell Wilson trade you have to wonder if it still carries this connotation. The Rams are defending Super Bowl champions, the 49ers will be strong with Trey Lance at the helm and the Cardinals will continue to be a tough out, at least in the regular season.
So, which division is the toughest? Here are my Top 5:
1. AFC West
2. AFC North
3. NFC West
4. AFC East
5. NFC East
What do you think? Which division is the toughest in the NFL? What would make up your Top 5? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.