The only sure way to make the NFL playoffs is to win the division. As such, it behooves teams to aim for the top of their division rather than pray for a wild card spot. Eighteen of the last 23 Super Bowl winners have also won their division, including 11 since 2010.

But not all divisions are equal. Some are heavy at the top, with one clear favorite followed by three middleweight teams. Others, however, are more competitive with most if not all four teams vying for the top spot.

As the The NFL schedule rushes towards the draft, we took a look at each of the eight divisions and ranked them from least to most competitive based on a composite score. To calculate this, we look at each team’s odds of winning their respective divisions (from betMGM) as well as projected earnings totals. Next, we constructed six determinative data points:

  • The difference in odds between the lowest odds and each of the other three teams, respectively.

  • The total win difference between the teams with the highest total and each of the other three teams, respectively.

  • The average odds of winning the division.

From there, we were able to determine which divisions are actually up for grabs and which appear to be on lockdown months before the season begins. All of this is subject to change, of course, depending on how the rest of the spring and summer goes before Week 1.

Which NFL division looks to be the most competitive next season heading into the draft?  (Moe Haidar/Yahoo Sports)

Which NFL division looks to be the most competitive next season heading into the draft? (Moe Haidar/Yahoo Sports)

8. NFC West

Altogether, the san francisco 49ers they are by far the best team in their division relative to the rest of the NFL. Although The 49ers quarterback situation is a bit shakythe 49ers (-155 to win the NFC West) still have the best collection of skilled position players, and the defense remains elite.

The rest of the division remains uncertain. He Seahawks they returned most of their core, but aren’t locked up to return to the postseason. The Los Angeles Rams are a shell of their 2021 version of the championship and the arizona cardinalswhich drags the average odds of winning the division to +2200, could be the worst team in the league heading into the 2023 season.

7. AFC South

There is no other team in the division that can or should compete with him. Jacksonville Jaguars (-150) this season. trevor lawrence he is the best quarterback in the division and the Jags’ added receiver calvin ridley to their options for catching passes.

He tennessee titans they’re projected to be the second-best team at +325 to win the AFC South, but they tanked in the second half of the 2022 season and lost more talent than they gained this offseason. He houston texans and Indianapolis ColtsMeanwhile, both have poor defenses and will start with a rookie or mediocre quarterback under center.

6. AFC West

This should not surprise us considering the stranglehold of the Kansas City Chiefs, who has won the division seven straight seasons and has an NFL best mark of -160 to do so again. while the Los Angeles Chargers should be better in 2023 and the Denver Broncos and las vegas raiders could bounce back, neither are a real threat to the Chiefs while patrick mahomes and Andy Reid are there.

The Chargers are the only team that could pressure the Chiefs, but they need to stay healthy. justin herbert he is 2-4 against the Chiefs in his career and lost those four games by an average of just 3.75 points. He The Broncos could be better with Sean Payton as his coach, too. The Raiders… who knows with Jimmy Garoppolo.

5. AFC North

Joe Burrow and the Bengals are still on the rise, and the AFC North's odds reflect that.  (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
joe burrow and the bengalis they’re still on the rise, and the AFC North odds reflect that. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

The rise of the Cincinnati Bengals (+110 to win) puts them squarely in the driver’s seat of the division without much competition behind them. Joe Burrow is hitting his ceiling at quarterback and should be bolstered by the addition of tackle Orlando Brown to the offensive line. The defense could be a problem, but the Baltimore Ravens, cleveland browns and pittsburgh steelers They have many questions for 2023.

The Browns are second favorites at +300, but they’re not guaranteed to improve even with a full season of Deshaun Watson after his uninspiring six-game streak to end last year. He Ravens can look completely different Yeah lamar jackson leaves. And the Steelers are trying to understand themselves with Kenny Pickett under the center.

4. NFC East

keep being him philadelphia eagles‘ division to lose, but the gap could be narrowing if the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants continue progressing. Even the Washington Commanders he didn’t miss the playoffs much last season.

The difference between the Eagles (+110) and Cowboys (+175), according to BetMGM odds, is the smallest among the divisional rivals this season. The Giants also added weapons and the Commanders still have good defense. But while the numbers indicate the NFC East should be competitive, the Eagles remain the favorites to repeat as division champions.

3. NFC South

This division was on the line as recently as last season and was thrown wide open after tom brady retired. All four teams will start a new quarterback in Week 1, the first for a single division since 1973. That alone is enough to make the NFC South one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL.

The problem is that neither of these teams are very good, so it wouldn’t be hard for one to pull off a division win early on. But, the difference between those directed by Derek Carr New Orleans Saints (the favorite at +125) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who have the highest odds at +500) are among the smallest in the league. He carolina panthers It could also turn things around, with a rookie quarterback as the No. 1 pick and a team that nearly stole the division from the Buccaneers just a year ago.

2. AFC East

Assuming they trade for Aaron Rogersthere is a serious three-team race between the new york jets (currently +210), the miami dolphins (+360) and the two-time reigning AFC East champions buffalo bills (+125). And you can never really count on Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, even if they have not shown an indication of improvement heading into 2023.

The Bills look like favorites after ripping through the division last season, but the Dolphins should be better with a healthy team. Tua Tagovailoa and a defense led by Vic Fangio with a cornerback Jalen Ramsey in high school. The Jets were a surprise team with a youthful offense and solid defense in 2022 and could be contenders with Rodgers in the fold.

1. NFC North

He Detroit Lions they are the favorites to win the division at +135, but the other teams are not far behind. Regardless, the Lions are trending after a raucous finish to the 2023 season, while typical favorites the Vikings and packers, have a downward trend. He Vikings was one of the luckiest teams. in the league, while The packers have no idea as jordan love he’ll do well in his first season as a starter (assuming Rodgers is traded). He The Bears also lost the most one-score games. in 2022.

It’s hard to have faith in the Lions thanks to the team’s history of failure, but Dan Campbell has turned many into believers and now the Lions could win the NFC North for the first time since 1993 in the league’s toughest division in 2023.

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