Regardless of how Titans-Saints turns out this evening, we can do a decent-enough sussing out of the merits of the divisions in the NFL at this point. What’s been interesting is how crappy a couple of divisions have looked.
The AFC South is the best division in the league. Amusing to write this, considering that for a few years, it’s been Indy’s dominance and Jacksonville’s underachieving. But the Texans are 2-1 after topping Carolina and KC (yeah, bad competition) and keeping it close with Indy. Both the Texans and the Titans kept it close with the Colts in losing, and I picked the Titans against the Saints tonight.
Now, the difficulty starts: which division contains the largest amount of suck? Let’s look at the candidates:
- AFC East: Deceptively bad due to how much the Patriots rule. Buffalo is already in the Andre Woodson/Brian Brohm sweepstakes (Trent Edwards is not your QB of the future) and the only reason the Jets aren’t 0-3 is because they played Miami yesterday.
- AFC North: Pittsburgh is unexpectedly solid, while Baltimore and Cincinnati are mediocre in ways we usually expect (offense for the Ravens, defense for the Bengals) and the Browns, despite last week’s surprise win in the offensive orgy, are still the Browns.
- AFC West: NORV! has infected the entire division, not just his own team. The Broncos are the shakiest 2-1 team in the conference without any front four on defense and will be 2-2 after next week in Indy (would love to be proven wrong, but the Broncos always lose in Indy; it’s a law by this point). KC is lucky not to be 0-3 by virtue of Minnesota deciding not to drop a defender back on Dwayne Bowe. The Raiders beat the Browns and had to do it by pulling a Shanahan. The Chargers, well, are an elite team with a moron for a head coach.
- NFC North: Pre-season favorite for shittiest division due to predictions the Packers, Lions, and Vikings would all be horrible. Well, the Vikes prediction panned out so far, but the Bears look no better than a .500 team right now, the Lions will come back down to earth after feasting on the Vikings and the Raiders. The surprise is the Packers, who will be 4-0 after next week’s Vikings game.
- NFC South: It wasn’t a question of how bad this division would be; it’s just that we all thought the Saints would be at the top of it, laughing at everyone else. At best, they’ll be 1-2 after tonight. Tampa Bay and Carolina are ahead after feasting on patsies within the division and in worse ones (both beat the Rams, Carolina beat Atlanta, Tampa whooped New Orleans). Atlanta is so bad that they can waste a career day by Joey Fucking Harrington, who could go over and strangle DeAngelo Hall right now and no one would dare convict him.
- NFC East: Best division in the NFC is like being named a quadruple-A squad in baseball, but that’s what the East is — the Cowboys are legit, the Redskins are still on the rise (despite being blanked in the second half by the Giants), as long as McNabb is healthy, the Eagles can put up numbers, and the Giants (if they get defense like that yesterday) can actually do damage despite the dysfunction.
This makes our obvious winner at Week 3 for the Shittiest Division in Football being:
- The NFC West. I don’t care if the Seahawks destroyed Tampa Bay and beat Cincy yesterday. A team with Hasselbeck, Alexander, and Deion Branch ought to hang 30+ on the Bengals easy, especially a week after losing to Arizona. The Cardinals had to go to Kurt Warner to be competitive and should thank a bad handoff from Seattle, because that’s the only thing keeping them from 0-3. The Niners were exposed as the most fraudulent 2-0 team by the Steelers yesterday after playing a very sloppy brand of football in which they won because Arizona and St. Louis were worse. I thought St. Louis was actually going to be productive this year, but you can’t be a productive offense if you can’t protect the QB or open holes for the star RB.
I suspect some of you may quibble with making the NFC West the worst over the South, and I wouldn’t say you were completely wrong. But the West teams that are not Seattle have looked so awful even when winning that it has to go this way.
Photo: AP/Chris O’Meara
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