Which division is the toughest?
The AFC South, according to VegasInsider, is the worst division with an average Super Bowl odds of 133.25-1. Houston is 18-1 and Indy is 40-1, but they can't make up for the others (Jacksonville is 300-1 and Tennessee is 175-1). Houston is a known commodity but the rest is up in the air. Indy has a nice team but they benefit from getting to play both Tennessee and Jacksonville twice, so I don't think last year's record is really indicative of what kind of team they actually are, not to take anything away from Chuckstrong.
Overall, this seems like a very weak division but I'm open to idea of Jacksonville turning things around and surprising people. I see Maurice Jones-Drew pulling a mini-AP this year and carrying the team for stretches. And you really never know with a new coach, maybe Gus Bradley will light a fire under the troops this year.
The case can be made that this is the best division in football. All four teams have the potential to win a playoff game or two. Two teams, Green Bay and Chicago, expect to do so and both Detroit and Minnesota have a couple of guys that can single-handedly get them there.
There are two people that can turn this division into the best in the NFL:
1) Jim Schwartz. Come on, Jim. It's now or never. You've got the talent but you need to bring the consistency.
2) Christian Ponder: if he's the real deal (or at least a real-er deal than he's been) they'll be in business.
We know that Green Bay is going to be good and Chicago should be also, especially with their much-hyped offense under new coach Marc Trestman. I don't think anyone would be shocked if this ends up being the best division in the NFL.
Like the rest of us, VegasInsider likes the NFC much better than the AFC. Based on average Super Bowl odds, the NFC has the top four divisions. But at 50-1, the AFC North's average Super Bowl odds are just 1 behind the NFC West's 49-1.
Vegas likes Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati roughly the same, while Cleveland is lagging behind at 100-1.
While I think Vegas is underating some teams out there, I think the opposite is happening in this division. Pittsburgh and Baltimore will be competitive--their coaches won't have it any other way--but playing hard only gets you so far.
Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh are going to take a time to get settled; Baltimore has to adjust to the roster overhaul and loss of the team's leaders and Pittsburgh needs to figure out a way to deal with its offensive line situation. I think this division has the potential to really stink up the joint this year and I wouldn't be surprised if Cleveland ends up ahead of the Baltimore and Pittsburgh with Norv Turner taking the reins on offense.