As the dust settles on the 2012 draft, it won't be long before the first articles appear extolling the early 2012 playoff favorites. Along the way, some talking head will try to sell you on why this or that division may is the best division in the NFL because this or that player or coach is a sure-fire thing or because this or that free agent acquisition or draft pick will elevate some ho-hum team to championship status.
Don't be fooled by any of that. The NFC East is still the best division in football. Everybody knows it, not everybody likes to admit it. 20 Super Bowl appearances between the four NFC East teams and 12 Lombardi trophies between three of them speak a pretty clear language. The NFC East is the only division to have won a Super Bowl in each of the last five decades. Regardless of which teams win the remaining Super Bowls this decade, no other division will be able to match that feat.
What, you're getting a little tired of the Super Bowl arguments, and want some more recent data to support the East's primacy? Piece of cake.
Here's some more recent data to chew on: Since 2005, the NFC East has won more games than any other division in the NFL. The East has had more playoff teams, has scored more points, has had more yards on offense, more sacks and more 1,000+ yard receivers than any other division. And the East has had only six teams with a losing record in the last seven years. No other division can match any of that. Really, it's not even debatable.
Toughest? Most talented? Most successful? Find out after the break just how good the NFC East really is.
Overall performance by division 2005 - 2011
Over the last seven years, the Cowboys, Eagles, Giants and Redskins have outscored their opponents by a combined 725 points. No other division can match that.
The NFC East has sent 14 teams to the playoffs since 2005. Again, best in the league. The last two seasons were the only two seasons in the last seven years that the East did not send at least two teams to the playoffs (three NFC East teams qualified in 2006 and 2007).
The NFC East racked up a total of 242 wins over the last seven years, more than any other division.
But what is perhaps the most remarkable achievement of the NFC East is the fact that in seven years only six teams have had a losing record in the division: the '06, '09, '10 and '11 Redskins, the '05 Eagles and the '10 Cowboys. The NFC West matched that seven-year total in the last two years alone.
|Performance by division
2005 - 2011
|No. of teams with losing record||6||13||10||18||14||11||9||11|
As good as the table above looks for the NFC East, you can't help but wonder what's going on in the West divisions, and the NFC West in particular: Seven playoff spots in seven years. That basically means that the team that sucks the least gets the playoff spot. Not once in seven years did a team from the NFC West qualify for a wildcard spot. The horror, the horror.
NFC East: Home to the most prolific offenses and toughest defenses
Over the last seven years, the NFC East has racked up the most total yards on offense, has more 1000+ receivers than any other division, has scored more points and has recorded more sacks than any other division. That's what you get in the East: prolific offenses and tough defenses.
|Performance by division
2005 - 2011
|Total Yards on offense (in thousands)||158||146||152||139||147||142||150||149|
|1000+ yards receivers
The East and the mighty Dollar
As much as the NFL is trying to set up a socialist wealth distribution system, ostensibly to ensure level playing field for all franchises, there's no denying that at the end of the day, the NFL remains is a business that thrives on and rewards scale.
Bigger is better in the NFL, and a large part of the success of the NFC East can be explained in simple dollars and cents. The NFC East teams are all within the top seven of the most valuable NFL franchises. And the attendance at their games ensures that the four teams will have a revenue stream to match their valuations for years to come. And don't be fooled by the attendance number in Washington. Three consecutive losing seasons have seen attendance drop from a high of 1,246,219 in 2008 to where it is today. It's not inconceivable that with RGIII signing on in DC, and attendance back up close to the 2008 level, to the four NFC East stadiums will claim the top five spots in terms of attendance next year.
|2011 NFL most valuable franchises||2011 NFL total regular season attendance|
|Rank||Team||Value, $ BLN||Rank||Team||Attendance|
The East is hands down better than any other division, so that begs the question, which division is the second best in football?