If you were hoping that this would finally be the year when the Patriots' stranglehold on AFC East came to a blistering end, you should just keep going and give up that hope because it does not look like it's happening would, and that's because the Patriots are likely to have zero competition in 2018, thanks to the fact that they will play in the worst division in the NFL.
That's right, the AFC East has officially bottomed out, at least after the 2018 version of our Divisional Power Rankings. Although the Patriots are expected to fight for a third AFC title in a row, it's hard to imagine anyone in the division doing any damage to the NFL.
For each step forward, the Patriots have taken this off-season, it seems as if the Jets, Dolphins and Bills took back three steps. The biggest and most glaring difference between the Patriots and the other three teams in the AFC East is that New England actually knows who will be its starter quarterback this year. With less than six weeks left until the start of the regular season, it's still a mystery who will be the center of attention in New York or Buffalo. Although the dolphins know who their quarterback will be (Ryan Tannehill), there is still a secret around him, and that's because it's been more than a year and a half since Tannehill made a regular season.
Basically, it's good that the Patriots have given us this off-season drama, because when it comes to the AFC East and who will win it, there's rarely a seasonal drama.
So Where did every second division land in our ranking this year?
Let us find out.
. 8 AFC East
It's A Good Thing Tom Brady's Facebook documentary " because if it was "Tom vs. AFC East," it would have been him boring and predictable and nobody would have seen it. The Patriots have won an NFL record with nine consecutive titles, and at this point it seems as if Brady or Bill Belichick decide to retire.
One big reason AFC East was ranked last in our division rankings is that it feels like the Patriots are the only team to shoot the playoffs. So yes, that means six weeks before the start of the season, we'll write off the bills, jets and dolphins.
Although the Bills made the playoffs last season, it's hard to see them return in 2018 after losing their starting quarterback (Tyrod Taylor) and 60 percent of their offensive start line (Richie Incognito, Cordy Glenn, Eric Wood). Not to mention the possibility that this LeSean McCoy situationor two. These losses are ugly, but the Dolphins may actually have lost more talent, with Ndamukong Suh, Mike Pouncey and Jarvis Landry leaving Miami through free agency or trade. Surprisingly, the jets are perhaps the best upgraded team in the division, but if they are just as bad as the jets last year, it's almost impossible not to improve.
The NFL loves the idea of parity, but unfortunately for the league, AFC East is the division where parity dies. RIP parity. Incidentally, we'll quickly find out if the AFC East is as bad as we think is right, because the division is against AFC South (the second-worst division) this year.
AFC's East Out-of-Division record in 2017: 21-19 (6-10 against NFC South, 9-7 against AFC West, 2-2 against AFC North, 4-9 0 against AFC South)
2018 outside Division: Vs. NFC North and AFC South
7. AFC South
If there are still some points in this ranking by the end of the 2018 season that are likely to be thrown back on my face several times, then it is likely that the AFC South is so low. However, there are several reasons why a division that sent two teams to the playoffs last year is considered the second-worst division in the NFL.
Firstly, this is a departmental rating, and AFC South has been totally unfair in recent years when playing against other divisions. In 2017, the four teams at AFC South combined to go 15-25 in non-divisional games, which was the worst score of any division in the NFL. Not only in 2017, AFC South has lost in non-division games almost every year for the past ten years. The last time that the AFC South had a successful record in non-divisional games, he came back in 2009, when Peyton Manning still played for the Colts. To put this into perspective: Since 2014, every other division has at least one victory record against non-division opponents.
The AFC South also has more question marks than pretty much any other division this season. If the Texans are good this year, their training staff should win the Team MVP award, and that's because Houston's success is down to the health of guys like Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt. Although Watson looked good last year, he only started six career games so there is no guarantee that he will be a star in 2018. As for Watts, he suffered his second serious injury in two years and has been playing an entire season since 2015. Of course, Watt now looks like the Incredible Hulk, so it will not be surprising if he survives the season and destroys everyone on his way.
As for the other three teams, the Jaguars will have a target on their back after their AFC title game last year, and both the Colts and the Titans will be studying the learning curve when hiring a new coach. Not to mention, the Colts will probably start a quarterback who has not played a regular season game since the 2016 season.
These are many question marks for a division that always seems to be struggling. Things are going to be all right for AFC South this year, and things are never going right in the NFL.
AFC South Out Division record in 2017: 15-25 (10-6 against AFC North, 4-12 against NFC West, 0-4 against AFC East, 1-3 against AFC West)
2018 Outside the Division Plan: Vs. NFC East and AFC East
6. AFC North
If these rankings were based on the top 3 teams in each division – or if the Browns did not exist – AFC North would probably rank much higher here. However, there are the Browns (if you count 0-16 as existing), which means we have to punish the AFC North accordingly.
The Browns were literally the only reason the AFC North had trouble playing non-division games last year. As a division that combines four teams to go 17-23 in non-divisional games, and the Browns definitely do not help, things go 0-10 (The Steelers, Ravens and Bengals combined, 17-13 to go).
Although the Browns appear better on paper each year, someone seems to throw this piece of paper into a huge bonfire because the enhancements never seem to translate to the field. Maybe this year will be different. The Browns have added a quarterback (Tyrod Taylor), a receiver (Jarvis Landry) and a running back (Carlos Hyde). Although these moves were impressive, this "office" parody is still Brown's best move in 2018.
Of course, even if the Browns are bad again, the rest of the division should be good. In Baltimore, Joe Flacco will play for his job, which is good news for the Ravens, because the only time he seems to play well is when he is under an absurd pressure (see: 2012 Playoffs). As for the Bengals, somebody finally persuaded Marvin Lewis to add some offensive linemen, which means that Andy Dalton will actually get protection. At the end of the Steelers, with Le Veon Bell probably having doneafter this season, it's clear to everyone that the Super Bowl window closes quickly. After battling in 2017, it would come as no surprise that AFC North 2018 brings three playoff teams.
AFC North Division Record 2017: 17-23 (6 -10 against AFC South, 6-10 against NFC North, 2-2 against AFC East, 3-1 against AFC West)  2018 Outside Division: Vs. NFC South and AFC West
5. NFC West
The NFC West could be the toughest division to rank, and that's because one could make a strong case for placing it almost everywhere in those rankings. Do you want to put it up? Well, you have a Whiz Kid head coach who went in his first year 11-5 (Sean McVay), you have a quarterback who has never lost a start in his career (Jimmy Garoppolo) and you have a QB coach Combination in Seattle That's been together with two Super Bowls for the past five years. NFC West also went 12-4 against AFC South last season.
Of course, the argument to lower them is that the 49ers defense 2018 will have many question marks and Jimmy Garoppolo can not remain undefeated forever, no matter how good he is. The Seahawks have lost players left and right. In fact, if you were to call Seattle's defense a shell of her former self, that would be an insult to grenades. In Arizona, both the head coach and the quarterback dropped out, which is not an ideal situation for any team.
On the other hand, the Rams have built an all-star team in this off-season, they have no weaknesses and after winning the Super Bowl, we will probably have to pull NFC West into the rankings next year. For the time being, NFC West is in fifth place, and this is mainly based on the principle that the division had a victory record in 2017 against no other NFC division.
NFC's West Out-of-Division record in 2017: 22-18 (7-9 against NFC East, 12-4 against AFC South, 1-3 against NFC North, 2-2 against NFC South)
2018 out- Divisions Plan: Vs. NFC North and AFC West
4. AFC West
The AFC West is the highest ranked division in the AFC, and that's because they feel like one division in the conference, where each team finishes or even wins .500 or more, and yes, this includes the Broncos, who only went 5-11 last year.
Each team in the division seemed to add at least one major upgrade. The Raiders added Jon Gruden, the Broncos signed Case Keenum, and the Chargers seemed to be doing the right moves this off-season, though star star Keenan Allen seemed to hate some of them.
Chargers' two biggest moves came in the form of signing offensive line Mike Pouncey and defensive development against Derwin James.
Ironically, the biggest question mark team in 2018 is the team that won the division last season. If you score at home, the Chiefs traded their starting quarterback (Alex Smith), their best defensive back (Marcus Peters) and their offensive coordinator to the Bears (Matt Nagy). You could also argue that they overpaid for Sammy Watkins. Of course, the Chiefs have made the playoffs in four of the last five seasons, so we'll give Andy Reid the benefit of the doubt and pretend he knows what he's doing.
AFC West Out-of-Division Record 2017: 18-22 (7-9 against AFC East, 7-9 against NFC East, 1-3 against AFC North, 3-3 1 against AFC South)
2018 Outside Division: Vs. NFC West and AFC North
3. NFC East
If you want to start a debate that could turn into a bar fight this weekend, just go to a group of people and ask them who the best quarterback in the NFC East is. The only reason we put this division so high is that it feels like NFC East has the best quarterback group of any division in the NFL, just behind NFC South.
Although Eli Manning struggled in recent years, the Giants were able to be successful in 2018 by backing out and reinforcing their offensive line. If Manning can not figure out anything this year, that probably means it's time to retire.
At the Redskins end, they added Alex Smith, which is good news for coach Jay Gruden, because Smith is basically a more talented version of Andy Dalton. This is only notable because Gruden spent three years with Dalton in Cincinnati (2011-13) and turned him into a usable quarterback. If Gruden can turn Dalton into a playoff quarterback, he can not say what he'll do to Smith.
As for Dak Prescott, he's in the weakest position this year, and that's because he does not really have anyone to throw. Although the cowboys have added Allen Hurns and Tavon Austin, they still definitely do not have a true recipient # 1, which is not good news for Prescott.
With Carson Wentz, the guy just won a Super Bowl and the Eagles rewarded him with Mike Wallace. Of course, Wentz is not quite healthy yet, which is why it's hard to decide who will be the best NFC East quarterback for 2018 (we could also pitch Nick Foles, but we will not).
Although NFC East did not rank first in our rankings, it feels like the only division in the NFC that could be legitimately won by any team. (Sorry Bears, we will not give you a chance in the NFC North. Sorry, Bucs, we will not give you a chance in the NFC South and sorry Cardinals, we will not give you a chance in the NFC West).
NFC East Out-of-Division Record 2017: 20-20 (9-7 against NFC West, 9-7 against AFC West, 1-3 against NFC North, 1-3 against NFC South)
2018 Outside the Department Schedule: Vs. NFC South and AFC South
2. NFC North
The NFC North has arguably the best quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) and the best defense in the NFL (Minnesota), which immediately brings him into the conversation for the best division.
The only thing that keeps this division down The last few years have been the bears, and for once, it looks like they're ready to turn things around. The Bears not only hired an offensive-minded mad scientist as their coach (Matt Nagy), but he hired another crazy scientist to help him lead the storyline (former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich). That would be basically the same as Guy Fiery and Gordon Ramsey in the same cooking show. I have no idea what would happen in this situation, but I would definitely want to see.
As for the Lions, though they can not buy a Super Bowl, they did the next thing: they signed LeGarrette Blount. Blount has won two Super Bowls in a row – with New England (2016) and Philadelphia (2017) – and would probably not have signed with the Lions if he does not at least think they're a playoff contender. Matt Patricia's attitude also brings some serious Super Bowl experience to Detroit.
At the end of the Packers, there were also some pretty high-profile additions. The Packers not only signed Jimmy Graham, but also took turns with Mike Pettine. And then we have the Vikings who signed Kirk Cousins and Sheldon Richardson.
If we sorted the divisions for the best offseason, NFC North would probably have won first place. Unfortunately, we do not arrange things here, so they have to settle for second place.
NFC's North Out-of-Division Record 2017: 22-18 (6-10 against NFC South, 10-6 against AFC North, 3-1 against NFC East, 3-1 1 against NFC West)
2018 outside the division plan: Vs. NFC West and AFC East
1. NFC South
After NFC South sent three teams into the playoffs in 2017, NFC South is basically the frontrunner. To send three teams into the playoffs is almost unknown in the NFC: before last year, no NFC division had managed the feat since 2007 (NFC East).
The crazy thing about NFC South's performance last season is that the division had basically only two games left after sending two teams to the NFC championship. Ifand the Falcons from the Eagles two-yard line implement that game's minute, then get we the saints who host the Falcons for the NFC title.
Also, let's not forget that this division has spawned the NFC Super Bowl team in two of the last three years. Oh, and this section also includes two of the last three MVPs (Matt Ryan and Cam Newton) and a quarterback (Drew Brees) who finished second to the MVP more than anyone else in this century (three times).
While it's going to be hard to beat what this division did last season, it could actually happen, and that's because you could argue that all three teams have gotten better. The Saints at last(Marcus Davenport). Cam Newton finally (Torrey Smith) and the Hawks are finally starting to look comfortable in the system implemented last year by new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Of course, if Julio Jones misses a then you can just forget all the nice things we said about the Falcons and go ahead and copy them off.
You may have noticed that we have not mentioned the Buccaneers yet, and that's intentional. Withand Tampa will likely be to blame if the NFC South does not finish the 2018 season as the best division in football.
NFC's East Out-of-Division record in 2017: 25-15 (10-6 against NFC North, 10-6 against AFC East, 3-1 against NFC East, 2-1 2 against NFC West)
2018 outside the division plan: Vs. NFC East and AFC North