The NFL is a little over a month into the season, and we have a good sense of the contenders and the pretenders. With that in mind, here are my power rankings for the divisions.
1. NFC West: The 49ers are the only undefeated team in the NFC at 4–0. They have the stifling defense and creative offense to hang with the big boys. The Seahawks handed the offense to Russell Wilson and it hasn’t really failed since. The Rams look a little pedestrian, but there’s too much talent for them not to string some more wins together. The Cardinals? Well, there’s one in every division.
2. NFC North: Like the NFC West, there are at least three teams here that could make a deep playoff run. The Packers, Bears and Vikings all have talented defenses and good to so-so offenses. The Lions have the talent to hang with some tough teams each week, too.
3. NFC South: The Saints will be back to Super Bowl favorites when Brees is back. The Panthers are winning by just saying “screw it” and giving Christian McCaffrey every single offensive touch. The Buccaneers and Falcons are questionable at best, but both have high ceilings on offense.
4. AFC West: This division is kind of a mess right now, but it’s here because Patrick Mahomes is good at football. The Chargers are in a slide but will likely rebound once Melvin Gordon gets into midseason form. The Raiders aren’t completely miserable this year and should be able to win some games. The Broncos could tank, but they still have some pieces on defense to keep them competitive.
5. AFC South: Every team here is competitive, but none of them really scream “deep playoff run.” I love the Colts on both sides of the ball, but they have a lower ceiling on offense. The Texans are talented but can underachieve any given week. The Jaguars and Titans both have talented defenses, and Gardner Minshew is a living legend, but I don’t buy their chances long-term.
6. NFC East: The Cowboys and Eagles both have Super Bowl aspirations, despite having question marks in various places on the roster or coaching staff. Wow, did I just criticize the Cowboys? I must be really pessimistic after last week’s loss. The Giants and Redskins bring this division down hard.
7. AFC North: Every team in this division is kind of a mess. The Ravens feel the most complete, but the Browns and Steelers are just dumbfounding. The Browns are underachieving mightily in the face of strong competition, and the Steelers may be trotting out a third-string quarterback this week. The less said about the winless Bengals the better.
8. AFC East: The Patriots are a very talented team, and Tom Brady is somehow still capable of throwing a football at age 42. The Bills are super talented on defense but they are inconsistent at best on offense. The poor, sweet innocent Dolphins are charging less money for a ticket than the Miami zoo right now. The Jets could get better when Sam Darnold returns from his mono-induced hiatus this week, but until I see anything promising I consider them bottom feeders.