Ranking the NFL divisions, from worst to best

Nov 22, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) talk after their game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Which of the NFL divisions sits atop the league’s power rankings? It’s a tricky question we’re happy to dive into ahead of the 2020 campaign.

Given the upheaval around the NFL this offseason, there’s a lot going on. Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots and AFC East changed everything. Meanwhile, other teams are in full-blown rebuild mode. While that means a promising future for the fans, it will also make 2020 an even more difficult year to witness.

Without further ado, this is how we rank the NFL divisions, from worst to best.

AFC East

  • Buffalo Bills
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New England Patriots
  • New York Jets

It’s not hard to argue that the AFC’s starting quarterbacks enter the year in the bottom half of the league. Sam Darnold and Josh Allen are both flawed, and the Jets haven’t exactly surrounded Darnold with elite talent. The Patriots lack explosive talent on offense and their confidence in Jarrett Stidham remains suspect. While the Dolphins may be entertaining, we wonder if Tua Tagovailoa will be ready early or if they’ll have to rely on Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills have a great shot at the divisional crown, but it won’t be shocking if all four teams struggle in 2020.

NFC East

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • New York Giants
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins

The NFC East is Dallas’ division to lose. Period. The Eagles haven’t done enough on either side of the ball to take the division without a collapse from the ‘Boys. The Giants are about as exciting as lukewarm oatmeal. As for Washington, it will take years for Ron Rivera to make this team a contender. The Cowboys will be a playoff team this season, but the rest of the division falls well short.

AFC South

  • Houston Texans
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Tennessee Titans

Philip Rivers arriving in Indianapolis is one of the most intriguing developments of the 2020 NFL offseason. The Colts have since done an incredible job surrounding him with talent. This team could challenge Kansas City in the end.

Houston’s offseason, on the other hand, was brutal. Deshaun Watson is one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, but the Texans keep failing him. While the Titans are rock solid, Ryan Tannehill must prove he can replicate his second-half success. As for the Jaguars, one of the worst teams in the NFL, they can just think about a loaded 2021 NFL Draft class.

NFC North

  • Chicago Bears
  • Detroit Lions
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Minnesota Vikings

You could argue that the Bears and Vikings got worse this offseason. Certainly, neither team significantly improved their chances. The Packers famously screwed over Aaron Rodgers by not drafting a single receiver in a draft stocked with impact talent. Green Bay will probably still win the division, but Detroit has a chance to exceed expectations and steal the crown. Overall, this division is mediocre.

AFC North

  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Cleveland Browns
  • Pittsburgh Steelers

A tremendously top-heavy division, the AFC North has two teams that could win it all. If Ben Roethlisberger is healthy (and can stay healthy), the Steelers have a crazy-good squad. Baltimore is one of the top Super Bowl contenders. If Lamar Jackson can develop his game as a pure passer, this team has dynastic traits. At this point, we have no idea what to expect from Cleveland. The Browns are loaded with talent, but they always find a way to disappoint. The Bengals will be fun to watch because of Joe Burrow, but we don’t expect much from them this year.

AFC West

  • Denver Broncos
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Las Vegas Raiders
  • Los Angeles Chargers

Of course, we start with the champs. Kansas City is a Super Bowl contender and will be every year with Patrick Mahomes. This is even more true in 2020 thanks to an elite supporting cast. It’s a dynamic squad many believe is the NFL’s next dynasty. The rest of the division is very intriguing. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if any of the other teams made it to the playoffs as a wild-card squad. And the Chargers will be better than anyone’s giving them credit for with Tyrod Taylor under center.

NFC West

  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Seattle Seahawks

Incredibly, the Rams are the weakest team in the NFC West right now. Just two years removed from the Super Bowl, this team is in a bind and needs Jared Goff to make significant strides in 2020. The other three teams in this NFL division, however, are all exceptionally dangerous. The 49ers, of course, are the defending NFC champs. The Seahawks and Cardinals could both make the playoffs and nobody would bat an eyelash.

This division is absolutely loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. If not for the quarterbacks in the NFC South, the NFC West would reign supreme atop the divisional rankings.

NFC South

  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady. Drew Brees. Matt Ryan. Teddy Bridgewater. Okay, so Bridgewater isn’t in the same class, but you see where we’re going here.

The Buccaneers, Falcons and Saints all feature Hall of Fame quarterbacks. They also have insane talent at the skill positions. Defensively, the Saints and Bucs are loaded. All three teams could finish above .500 easily in 2020.

As for the Panthers, rookie head coach Matt Rhule has his work cut out. But don’t sleep on Carolina as a team that could surprisingly exceed expectations in 2020 as well.