Thanks in large part to a highly successful 2014 NFL regular season by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the AFC North came out on top in the latest CBS Sports divisional rankings for 2015. It wasn’t due to winning playoff games – the division did, however, send three teams to post-season play. It is only the second time this has happened since 2011. The only other division to achieve that feat in the same time span was the AFC West in 2013.
In non-division games, the AFC North finished with a record of 26-13-1. Although Pittsburgh had some stumbles last season with non-division teams, they can give some credit to the Cincinnati Bengals for helping the AFC North achieve success. The Bengals were 7-2-1 against teams outside of the division.
The Steelers, Bengals, Ravens and Browns will face teams in the NFC West and AFC West in 2015.
The NFC West ranked as the second-highest division in the same poll but an “implosion” is predicted as the San Francisco 49ers will be without former head coach Jim Harbaugh, the St. Louis Rams will be led by Nick Foles, the Seattle Seahawks are looking at quarterback Russell Wilson’s contract and Arizona Cardinals hope they can find a healthy quarterback that can remain so all season.
The AFC West is experiencing its own pains. With all the talk of a team moving into the Los Angeles arena, no one is sure if they’ll be the ones packing. The Denver Broncos have Peyton Manning, but with several veteran players exiting the team could falter. The last time this division saw a championship was pre-realignment in 2002. Andy Reid may field the most productive team in the division -scary. The division ranked fourth overall on CBS Sports’ list.
This may bode well for AFC North teams as they look to once again prove dominance in the league.
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