For Week 14, Marshall Faulk wants to know:
To be GMC Professional Grade you must scrutinize from top to bottom. Some divisions have four teams in playoff contention, while others are lucky to have one. Look at the league and tell me, which division is the toughest from top to bottom?
With only four games remaining in the 2014 regular season, it's a good time to consider this question to anticipate how things may wrap up in the final stretch. Before we jump to any conclusions, let's take a look at the current standings between the two conferences:
Clearly we can eliminate the NFC South and the AFC South, as both of them anchor the bottom of each conference this year. The NFC East gets ruled out due to the horrible teams from Washington and New York (Giants), and the same could be said for the NFC North with the mediocrity of Chicago and Minnesota.
The NFC South is so bad that they provide a strong example to fuel the debate regarding playoff seeding. I'm definitely in the camp that believes the NFL should consider reordering the playoff brackets once the final six teams from each conference are determined. In my opinion, a team with a losing record that wins a division title in a weaker division should not be hosting a home playoff game against a visiting team that has a winning record and came from a stronger division.
That leaves the NFC West as the toughest overall division for its conference. That being said, all four teams have shown weaknesses throughout the season. Arizona is very likely heading into a free-fall with the loss of Carson Palmer, which is a real shame given how strong they looked up to that point. Seattle is now the strongest in that division and should win the division title to close out the year. St. Louis and San Francisco have looked like world-beaters in some games and inept in others. This inconsistency keeps them from being the strongest division in the league in my opinion.
The AFC East has the likely candidate for the top seed in New England, and Miami is making good strides to finish strong for a wild card spot. However, Buffalo and New York (Jets) keep this from being the strongest division. The AFC North is hotly contested, with all four teams neck and neck going into the final stretch of the season, but all four of these teams have lost games in ways that make us scratch our heads in confusion. From week to week, the AFC North has been the toughest division to analyze and predict a win or a loss.
That leaves us with the AFC West, which I feel is the toughest division in the NFL. Notwithstanding the bottom-feeding Raiders, the other three teams are quite formidable in their domination of non-conference and non-division games. The Broncos have the edge to win this division, while the Chiefs and Chargers are both in position to grab wild card seeds. It's entirely possible that all three of those teams could make the playoffs, although the Chargers have the toughest remaining schedule to close out the regular season.
REMAINING OPPONENTS FOR AFC WEST CONTENDERS:
Which division do you feel is the toughest in the NFL at this point in the 2014 Season? Please vote and share your thoughts below.