Complete NFL Divisional Strength Rankings For The 2016/17 Season

Kevin Stott

Tuesday, August 2, 2016 8:52 PM UTC

Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016 8:52 PM UTC

Let’s look at last season’s SU and ATS rankings for the NFL’s two divisions and try to theorize where some improvement may lie as well as make some AFC and NFC Divisional Futures Book picks.

Reading Through the ATS, SU Numbers and Dispelling Any Perceived Narratives

The 2016 NFL Preseason kicks off on this coming Sunday (Aug. 7) with the Hall of Fame Game from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio between the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts. So before the games begin, let’s take a look at the perceived strength for the coming Regular Season of the NFL’s eight different divisions in the context of overall strength and having to play each other for the coming year. And it only looks slightly different than it did in 2015/16 with that perceived power base of divisions farther north seemingly holding an edge over the more southern-located divisions.

Here are last season’s combined Straight Up (SU) and Against The Spread (ATS) rankings for the eight divisions in the NFL’s two conferences (AFC, NFC) as well as the highest current (Saturday, July 30) updated NFL Futures Book Divisional Winner odds to win those respective divisions from SBR's NFL odds screen:


2015/16 NFL Combined SU Record Divisional Standings

AFC East 36-28-0 56.3% (+8)

NFC South 36-28-0 56.3% (+8)

NFC West 35-29-0 54.7% (+6)

AFC West 34-30-0 53.1% (+4)

NFC North 34-30 53.1% (+4)

AFC North 30-34-0 45.5% (-4)

NFC East 26-38-0 40.1% (-12)

AFC South 25-39 39.1% (-14)


2015/16 NFL Combined ATS Record Divisional Standings

NFC North 40-27-0 59.7% (+13)

AFC North 32-28-6 53.5% (+4)

NFC South 34-32-1 51.5% (+2)

AFC West 35-33-1 51.5% (+2)

AFC East 29-32-5 47.5% (-3)

NFC West 31-35-2 47.0% (-4)

NFC East 28-35-2 44.4% (-7)

AFC South 28-35-2 44.4% (-7)


2016/17 Regular Season Odds to Win Division 

AFC East

New England Patriots -183 

Buffalo Bills +600

New York Jets +650 

Miami Dolphins +750


AFC South

Indianapolis Colts +162 

Houston Texans +250 

Jacksonville Jaguars +325 

Tennessee Titans 12/1


AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers +130 

Cincinnati Bengals +187

Baltimore Ravens +400

Cleveland Browns 33/1


AFC West

Denver Broncos +187

Kansas City Chiefs +200

Oakland Raiders +333

San Diego Chargers +650


NFC East

Dallas Cowboys +184 

New York Giants +250

Washington Redskins +333

Philadelphia Eagles +450


NFC South

Carolina Panthers -200 

Atlanta Falcons +600

New Orleans Saints +700

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8/1


NFC North

Green Bay Packers -137

Minnesota Vikings +200

Chicago Bears +1200

Detroit Lions +1400


NFC West

Seattle Seahawks -120

Arizona Cardinals +175

Los Angeles Rams +1000 

San Francisco 49ers 33/1


My 2016/17 NFL Divisional Strength Rankings

1—NFC North

When you are a combined 13 games above .500 ATS last season and 4 games above level SU and have mercurial QB Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears coming off combined 10-21 SU Regular Seasons. Then, you are worth consideration as top dog. Toss in the slight Weather and Site advantages in Green Bay and Chicago, the considerable improvement of the Minnesota Vikings and the fervor of a new fixed-roof Stadium in Minneapolis, the chance the consistent Cheeseheads are due for slight uptick, that the Bears may have the most underrated Offense in the NFL and that the feisty Detroit Lions are maybe the worst team in your division, then you honestly have a great division. The NFC North is still Black-and-Blue brother, old school NFC Central style. Snap up the chinstraps here.


2—AFC North

If there is one team in the NFL due to bounce back this year, it’s probably the Baltimore Ravens who have been ravaged by Injuries and flight from Free agency the past couple of years. And with now seeming perennial powers, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals in the division, it doesn’t even matter that maybe the worst team in the league will dwell in the cellar. The AFC North was 30-34-0 SU last year and, so with the expected improvement of Joe Flacco and the John Harbaugh-coached Ravens, this division should finish around 4-7 games up ATS overall this time around, thanks in great part to Big Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers and a dynamic and fairly deep Pittsburgh Offensive Roster. The Bengals may regress some.


3—AFC East

Tom Brady and the Patriots live here, that’s why. And the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets are making slow progress it seems, although until New England Head Coach Bill Belichick and Brady retire, this division is theirs because as we all know, a good QB is really hard to find these strange days. The AFC East was tied for the best mark in the NFL being 8 games above .500 SU (36-28-0, 56.3%), but the division was 3 games under .500 (29-32-5, 47.5%) ATS, showing that the number beat the AFC East last season more than the AFC East beat the number. Quarterbacks matter.


4—NFC West

With two very good teams in the Arizona Cardinals and the aforementioned Seattle Seahawks, the NFC West seems like the fourth strongest division in the NFL heading into the Regular Season with the now Los Angeles Rams perhaps being one of the biggest question marks this almost every season. The NFC West was 4 games below .500 last year going a combined 31-35-2 SU (47.0% ) but this division went 35-29-0 (54.7%) and the NFC West was 6 games above .500 ATS at the betting windows—where it matters most to us here. The San Francisco 49ers should continue to struggle for a number of logical Management, Site, starting QB and Roster reasons.


5—NFC South

Because the Carolina Panthers may be the NFL team in for the most Regression this coming season and because the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are cumulatively too poor against inter- and intra-conference foes, especially away from the South, the NFC Sounds lands here at No. 5. And because of the Panthers nice overall Regular Season Record (15-1), the NFC South was an impressive 8 games over .500 at 36-28-0 overall (56.3%). And the NFC South was 2 games over the telling .500 mark at 34-32-1 (51.5%) ATS last season. But if there is one of the eight NFL divisions ripe for a fall this coming season, it’s this one with these four possibly beating up on each other and the Who Dats and Head Coach Sean Payton realistically having just as good a shot to win this feeble division as the defending NFC champion Panthers do. The NFC South could be 6th here and the forecasted Carolina Regression along with the Dirty Birds final SU Record will probably determine the overall perception in the end. The gravity here is just sick for revenge.


6—AFC West

Too many chirp like hungry baby sparrows about the virtues and promise and bright Future of Alex Smith  and the Kansas City Chiefs and Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders. But the bottom line for this division is, like the great Detroit legend Stevie Wonder once sang, ”You Haven’t Done Nothin’” and both team’s starting QBs have their issues and limitations. Last season, the AFC West was 34-30-0 SU (53.1%) and 4 games above .500 while the division went 35-33-1 (51.5%) and was +2 ATS above the waterline. With the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos having such a big question mark at QB and Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers a team looking for a permanent Future Home, the AFC West seems overall a little bit better than the NFC East but maybe not as strong as the NFC South, though extremely close in my eyes. Fading all eight teams in these two divisions might not be a bad philosophy to start the first quarter (Weeks 1-4) on the NFL Regular Season. Like the Rams in the NFC, the Chiefs—as almost always—are the biggest enigma and question mark in the AFC but with Head Coach Andy Reid (28-23-0 ATS), at least have the right man at the helm. Reid may honestly be worth 2 (winning) games a season for the Chiefs.


7—NFC East

The Washington Redskins winning the division last season is all that needs to be said with the always injured Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles, always struggling with their own diminishing NFL identities. This division was 12 games below .500 SU (26-38-0, 40.1%) and 7 games below .500 ATS (28-35-2, 44.4%), and that’s with Washington having maybe an anomaly of a season and dominating as a Home Underdog at RFK Stadium (5-1 ATS at Home) under QB Kirk Cousins. Ain’t much changed here, except the number of the dot on the Range. The NFC East stinks and is honestly really lucky that the AFC South exists.


8—AFC South

C’mon man. Every year the AFC South hype is heavy here with experts and professional gamblers wanting the lowly Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars to improve or revert upward to some statistical mean that may never really happen for these two stanky dogs. The Home markets just aren’t supportive enough, the QB’s just aren’t good enough nor the Rosters strong enough. The AFC South was 14 games below .500 SU (25-39, 39.1%)—worst in the NFL—and 7 games under .500 overall ATS (28-35-2, 44.4%). And that divisional ATS mark could be even worse this year. Watch.


Ravens, Bears and Saints May Improve While the Panthers, Redskins, Bengals and Cardinals May All Slip

Like a river constantly flowing forward and changing its bank slightly through the years but always eventually arriving at the ocean, this year the NFL’s eight divisions can seem to be broken down to four perceived Good divisions and four Bad divisions. 

Sorry, Denver and Carolina. You may have both gotten to the Super Bowl last season, but your divisions still seem to suck some and it seems the best teams heading into this season from the two conferences are the Patriots in the AFC and Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks in the seemingly slightly stronger NFC. The NFL Regular Season will begin just 39 days from now with a Super Bowl 50 rematch between Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers and Von Miller and the Broncos from Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver on Thursday, Sept. 8. Get ready.

AFC Divisional Futures Book Picks: Pittsburgh Steelers +130 & Denver Broncos +187

NFC Divisional Futures Book Picks: New Orleans Saints +700 & Seattle Seahawks -140


NFL Hall Of Fame Game Pick: Under 36½ 
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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