What's the best, toughest and most complete division in the NFL?
That's a no-brainer, according to Around the NFL editor Gregg Rosenthal.
In comprising his division power rankings on NFL.com, Rosenthal writes that the starting point was the easiest part: the NFC's Dirty South, "the only division where all four teams are realistic threats for double-digit wins, which comes back to their quarterbacks."
And the list of signal callers – which includes Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston – is certainly an impressive one.
"Productive passing games are more consistent from year to year than strong defenses, and this is a division led by quarterbacks: Matt Ryan and Cam Newton have won two of the last three MVPs, while Drew Brees was playing at a championship level last season," Rosenthal writes.
"The 2017 Bucs finished fifth in drive success rate, according to Football Outsiders, with a fluky dead-last ranking in lost fumbles per drive torpedoing their season. No lead is safe in a division with quarterbacks this good."
Rosenthal also identifies a key game for each division in 2018 and not surprisingly, he listed the Falcons' Week 12 showdown in New Orleans on Thanksgiving Day as the biggest one. It's always intense when the Falcons and Saints square off, but this one could easily have playoff implications because it's later in the season, too.
In case you forgot and need a refresher how teams finished in 2017, here are the league standings from a year ago. The Saints won the South despite finishing with the same 4-2 division mark as the Falcons because they had a better overall record.
If you don't feel like clicking on the link at the beginning of the story, here's how the rest of Rosenthal's 2018 rankings shake out:
- NFC South
- NFC North
- NFC West
- AFC South
- AFC North
- AFC West
- NFC East
- AFC East