In 2010, his first year as the Seahawks head coach, Pete Carroll won the NFC West with a lowly 7-9 record. This year a team could get in at 6-10.
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How bad is the NFC South in 2014? Well, the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a combined -178 point differential (Carolina and Tampa Bay each have -85), a combined 6-20-1 record against teams in every other division, and of course all of them have losing records with only 6 games left to play. Not since the 2010 NFC West has an entire division looked that terrible.
In 2010, the Seattle Seahawks won a tie-breaker of the St. Louis Rams to win the division with a 7-9 record. The following week with a dominating home field advantage that continues to this day, the Seahawks beat the defending Superbowl Champion New Orleans Saints to win an epic Wildcard Playoff game. For a team with a losing record to not only become a playoff team, but to host a playoff game is a travesty – especially when there are seven teams in the NFC with winning records – guaranteeing that at least two of them will be forced to miss the playoffs entirely. Do the 4-6 Falcons or 4-6 Saints really deserve a playoff spot over the Eagles, Cowboys, Lions, Packers, Cardinals, Seahawks or 49ers? Worse, should a team that is at -85 in the point differential like the Buccaneers or Panthers, who still have a mathematic chance of winning the division be allowed to get into the playoffs at all just because they get hot at the right time?
It certainly shouldn’t be, and it hopefully won’t.
Here are the power rankings for the eight NFL divisions:
8. NFC South – Every team in this division is two games below .500 and have a grand total of six wins against non-division opponents. If the Saints and Falcons don’t pull it together and get to 8-8 or 9-7 (which would require the teams go 4-2 or 5-1 the rest of the way), there may be legitimate talk of division realignment down the road.
7. AFC South – The Colts might be the best team in the AFC South, but even at their best they often look like the 4th or 5th best team in the AFC. The Houston Texans may have found a QB to start building around with Ryan Mallett but the Titans and Jaguars are still at least another year away from being competitive.
6. NFC East
5. AFC East – The Patriots are still the only team that matters in this division and have been on a six-game winning streak since an embarrassing loss to the Chiefs back in September. They are in the fast lane to the AFC Championship game and are the most dominant team in football right now – but everyone else in the division is just a pretender or a spoiler with no real semblance of a contender.
4. AFC West – The Chiefs losing to the Raiders on Thursday Night Football really put a damper on this division. The Raiders are the embarrassment of the league and the Chiefs just lost to them. The Chargers and Broncos have both been seriously underachieving, but are still in prime playoff contention positions.
3. NFC North – Lions and Packers and Bears, oh my! Well maybe the Bears aren’t quite as frightening as they were in 2013, but the Packers and Lions are the two most dangerous home teams in the NFC. The Vikings have been meh all year and aren’t quite as good as their record indicates (with all four wins coming against teams with losing records).
2. AFC North – With every team in the division at least two games above .500 this late in the season, everyone is still a legitimate contender. Each team has their flaws without question, but all of them are dangerous and can break a game open at any given moment. This is a division that realistically will not be decided until the final week of the season.
1. NFC West – The Cardinals are the best (for now at least), the Seahawks are always a dangerous opponent, the 49ers can win a war of attrition with their defense, and the Rams have already beaten three of the four teams that played in the AFC and NFC Championship games last year. There isn’t