Which division is the toughest?
Heading into the season, many look at the NFC West as the best division in football because of the strength of the Seahawks and 49ers, but it's really anyone's ballgame at this point.
There are sure to be sleeper teams that emerge, like Indianapolis or Seattle have recently, and shift the geographical balance of power. Who will it be this season?
Here are my perspectives on each of the NFL's 8 divisions and a pre-Week 1 divisional power ranking, but as soon as the craziness commences, I reserve the right to change any opinions stated here 180 degrees.
According to VegasInsider.com, the NFC East has the highest average Super Bowl odds at 33.75-1. Of course that doesn't necessarily indicate the strength of the division, it mostly rewards the NFC East for not having any horrible teams. The NFC East is pretty balanced and should be very competitive, as it always seems to be. The Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys are all 25-1 and the Eagles are 60-1. No powerhouses, but good strength top to bottom.
Handicapping this division is tough. Every year it comes down to the wire and some team is bound to surprise us. But the lack of NFC favorites in this division is a bit of a downfall.
I'm envisioning a situation where each team finishes 8-8 and Jerry Jones, Daniel Snyder, Michael Vick, and the gap between Michael Strahan's front teeth duke it out on national television. I'm picking the tooth gap.
As a fan of an NFC team in a potentially loaded division, looking at the AFC divisions is incredibly frustrating. We have to play Seattle twice while New England gets to play Miami, Buffalo and the Jets twice!
But every year we make the same mistake; watch Miami and Buffalo turn into powerhouses right before our eyes. Not really, but you never know.
In all seriousness, Buffalo could be interesting. You never know with a mobile rookie QB (so I guess I'm saying the Jets could catch lightning in a bottle too) and CJ Spiller is supposed to have a huge season. Obviously New England is the favorite, with Super Bowl odds of 10-1, but they're bound to run into a bump in the road at some point. I just can't see anyone in this division actually winning in Foxboro, let alone challenging them for the division crown.
But this division has too much potential to totally count them out. The quarterback position in this division is a total mystery with Ryan Tannehill and his smokin’ hot wife being the second surest thing in the divison.
Here's my sleeper pick: Tampa Bay. I'm not sure they're really that much a sleeper anymore, but I'm sticking to it. Before Darrelle Revis got hurt he was widely considered the best defensive player in football. He was a game changer. If he gets back to being Darrelle Revis this season, the Bucs will go from the 23rd ranked defense a year ago to top-10. Oh yeah, and Doug Martin is going to get the ball 8,562 times this season behind an offensive line that will be much healthier than in the past.
And then there are New Orleans and Atlanta. Sure, maybe they're offensive-oriented teams, but they are both legitimate threats to win the Super Bowl and VegasInsider agrees, giving ATL 14-1 odds and NO 20-1 odds.
Carolina still isn't scaring many opponents, but they could sneak up on people this year too.