It’s always fun to bask in the misery of other NFL fanbases. But why revel in one team’s misfortune when you could quadruple the effect and do four teams at the same time? Here lies the magic of anointing the worst division in football. After six and a half weeks of NFL football, the recipient of this award has begun to establish themselves. However, this year we have a foot race between two very worthy contenders in the NFC East and the AFC North. It’ll be a photo finish for the ages, folks.

AFC North

With their initial showing, the AFC North does not present a strong argument for the coveted award. Sitting at 4-2, their first-place team in the Ravens appears to be a good team with playoff aspirations. However, do not be fooled by this facade. Despite their record, the Ravens have yet to defeat a team of any actual worth, tallying their wins against the likes of the Dolphins, Cardinals, Steelers and Bengals. The Ravens are a bad team poorly disguised as a good team. Look past their current record against the AFC North; Baltimore’s collapse is imminent.

The bottom three teams (and I do mean bottom) nicely round out the AFC North’s claim. The Steelers have imploded after losing Big Ben Rothlisberger, managing just a 2-4 record. After making big splashes in the offseason, and with fans already declaring themselves de facto Super Bowl champions, the other 2-4 team in the division, the Browns, have collapsed gloriously, securing themselves a spot in NFL history as one of the most overhyped teams to ever play. Those living outside of northern Ohio rejoice in their misery. And then there’s the Bengals. Oh, sweet sweet Cincinnati. Everything was going to be better now, right? Marvin Lewis was fired; the bad man is gone. Nope, not even close. Turns out Zac Taylor couldn’t solve fundamental problems with management. But hey, chin up Bengals fans! At 0-6 you might even have a chance at a glorious 0-16 season! One can only dream of such immortality. 

Honestly, this division is just bad.

NFC East: 

While this division, too, is terrible, it is honestly more disappointing than anything.

The bottom of this division is exactly where it was supposed to be. After losing their quarterback Alex Smith to a gruesome leg injury in the middle of last season, the Redskins were exposed as the awful team they are, unfixable by the likes of Case Keenum. The Giants are in a similar boat. Their defense is about as holy as the Pope, and their mediocre offense is being carried on the back of a rookie quarterback and a second-year running back. These teams are at 1-5 and 2-4 respectively, exactly where they’re supposed to be. 

It is the top half of the division that is the most surprising, and that gives the NFC East most of its claim to the highly desired award. What were two at least playoff teams last season in the Cowboys and Eagles have shown themselves to nothing but mediocre. The Cowboys have shown an inherent inability to beat a team that can legitimately be considered decent. The Eagles have been the poster child of inconsistency, falling to the god awful Falcons one week and handing a juggernaut Packers team their only loss of the season. Both of these teams are 3-3, and deservedly so. 

If I had to choose one division to anoint the worst in the league, I would choose the AFC North. Big things were expected out of three teams in that division in the Steelers, Browns and Ravens as opposed to just two teams in the Eagles and Cowboys from the NFC East. Let’s be real though, both of these divisions are straight-up trash. Unfortunately, someone has to win these divisions and make the playoffs, but the teams that do will never make it far.

warren4@stolaf.edu