NFL Predictions 2019: NFC North vs. NFC South for best division

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 08: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers and Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers exchange words after their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 08: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers and Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers exchange words after their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The NFC is certainly stronger for the 2019 NFL season, but which division is the best in football? Time to pit the NFC North versus the NFC South to see which is best, top to bottom.

Ranking the best division in the NFL can go a number of different ways. Some analysts may prefer the top-heavy approach. How many title contenders does each division have? Others may prefer a discussion of depth. Which quartet is the best one through four? A slight variation on the latter would be the weakest link. Groups are only as strong as their weakest link, so which division has the best last-place team?

Everyone’s definition can be different. Personally, we know it’s easier to work backward and rule out divisions that are clearly not the best. This is how we’ve determined the best division in football this season. Is it the NFC North or the NFC South? Time to face off in our NFL predictions for 2019.

Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem, debate NFL predictions for 2019 in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

Todd Salem:

The AFC East is definitely not the best division. The Miami Dolphins should be bad, and the division boasts one serious contender. Even if the three non-Miami teams all finish around .500, it isn’t enough. The NFC East is also not. There are maybe 1.5 serious contenders here, depending on how you feel about Dallas. And the bottom half of Washington and New York could be pretty darn bad.

Things immediately get trickier from here. I feel like there is some separation between the bottom two and everyone else. I am also ruling out the AFC North though. Once the king of the divisions, it looks like there could be nothing more than three mediocre teams and one bad team. Steps back could be in store for both Pittsburgh and Baltimore. At best, we are relying on the Cleveland Browns to make a huge leap into the upper echelon. I’m not ready to do that quite yet.

The AFC South is next, in fifth place. There is lots of sleeper potential here. All four teams could be playoff-caliber. There isn’t an obvious terrible team in the bunch. That’s all well and good, but I need a prolific contender as well and there isn’t one here.

The two West divisions are close. The NFC’s version may have just one bad team, while the AFC’s likely has two. But the top two in the AFC’s is as good as it gets. Unless you’re a strong believer in Seattle, the NFC West can’t compete at the top. That is enough to rank the NFC West fourth and the AFC West third.

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That just leaves the NFC North and NFC South. Interestingly, both divisions were disappointing in 2018. They combined for just three winning teams, and that included Minnesota at 8-7-1. But it is easy to see a bounce back coming. In 2019, both should have one mediocre team and three really good teams. There is likely no terrible team between the groupings. Even more importantly, between the two, there are six squads that would surprise no one if they ended up making the Super Bowl. No other division can claim more than two such teams, if they have any at all.

I just feel like the South’s claim to that statement is less steady. The health of Cam Newton would single-handedly submarine Carolina’s season. The same could be said for a number of quarterbacks, but they aren’t entering the year with major shoulder questions. We also don’t know how the Atlanta defense will return after a lost season.

That makes the NFC North the best division in football, though this discussion is much closer than it’s been in past seasons.

Dan Salem:

We disagree on the league’s best division, but in the spirit of this NFL predictions for 2019 debate, I will also work backwards. Eliminate the NFC East first, because only Philadelphia gives me confidence right now. The Cowboys may have something, but Ezekiel Elliott‘s contract situation scares me. New York intrigues, but is still ho hum.

The AFC North gets eliminated next, because there is no great team in this division. I like the Ravens best, but I’m not sure what that is saying just now. Every team is missing something, or has yet to prove anything. At least the AFC East has the defending Super Bowl champions, as well as two teams with budding quarterbacks and strong defenses. We agree on the bottom three, yet disagree on the order. That’s like arguing over which piece of garbage smells the worst.

Next is where we truly start to diverge. In fifth place is the NFC West, which reminds me a lot of the AFC East. A conference champion and two teams with questionable potential. Seattle has proven itself in recent years, which puts this division ahead of the former.

I’m putting the NFC North in fourth place. Green Bay will rebound and can be very good, but I’m not confident in the Bears repeating their dominance. I’m also skeptical of the Vikings continued success. These are three good teams, without one great team. This puts the division fourth.

The AFC West slots in at third for me as well. The Chiefs and Chargers should both be very good, but that is all. Oakland has potential, while Denver isn’t terrible. The presence of two likely playoff locks puts them ahead of nearly every other division. This leaves the AFC and NFC South divisions.

Which division has the best worst team? Both south divisions can stake claim to this crown. I love the AFC South this season. Indianapolis should build nicely on its 2018 success. Jacksonville will rebound and the Texans are still very good. Tennessee is the odd team out, but is still a playoff contender with a healthy Marcus Mariota. This puts the AFC South in second place.

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The NFC South is my top division for the 2019 NFL season. Carolina’s history says they will be excellent once again, and I believe Newton remains healthy. The Saints are poised for another run at the Super Bowl, while Atlanta is itching to remind everyone why they made the Super Bowl a few seasons ago.

The Falcons overcame a ton of injuries last season and still finished with a respectable record. Only Tampa Bay looks mediocre, but the Buccaneers have a new coaching staff that will at least keep them mediocre. Top to bottom the NFC South is solid.