Marshall Faulk (@marshallfaulk) December 3, 2014
This week's question from Marshall Faulk revolves around what is the toughest division in the NFL. With four weeks left in the season, nearly every division has at least two or three teams in contention for a playoff spot, making this an interesting question. I suppose it really depends on what you view as tough in this specific case.
For this discussion, let's just go ahead and cross the NFC South and AFC South off the list right now. No team is even at .500 in the NFC South, and only the Indianapolis Colts are above .500 in the AFC South.
This leaves us with six divisions, and I think you can eliminate the NFC East and NFC North next. Why? Well, only two teams in each of those divisions are contending for a playoff spot at this point. The NFC East has two playoff-caliber teams in the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, and the NFC North has two playoff-caliber teams in the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. The top half of each division looks good, but that's about it.
With four divisions left, it gets a bit tougher to narrow the list down even more. I say that because in each of the remaining AFC divisions, at least three teams are still in the playoff hunt. Actually, the AFC North has all four teams contending for a playoff spot with the Cincinnati Bengals leading the way at 8-3-1 and everybody else standing at 7-5. On paper, that looks like the deepest division, but no teams jump out as truly dominant.
That's not the case in the AFC East and AFC West. Those divisions are led by the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, respectively, and there's good depth there as well with the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs all in the playoff mix. I'd give both of those divisions the edge over the AFC North simply because they are so strong at the top.
I don't think any of the divisions in the AFC are the toughest in the NFL, though. Instead, I would have to go with the NFC West. Yes, it's true that the Arizona Cardinals have had a rough couple of weeks, the San Francisco 49ers are starting to fade away a bit and the St. Louis Rams aren't exactly in the mix for a playoff spot. However, all four teams in the division present tough matchups, and you know you're in for a very physical game if you match up with any of them. That's why I think the NFC West is the NFL's toughest division.
What do you think?