Perhaps because there’s so much talent within the sport, the NFL appears as deep as ever for 2020. While I was against it at first, the addition of another wild-card team in each conference seems like an excellent idea because of how many worthy postseason teams there might be. All the divisions look very good too, and this is how I think they all stack up this season. I was going to wait for the Jadeveon Clowney signing to go through before doing this, but Clowney might wait until right up to before the start of the season to pick his new team. The 2020 NFL division power rankings start with a couple of NFC groups.
1. NFC West
After the 49ers and Seahawks had a heavyweight showdown for the division crown in Week 17 of last year before San Francisco went on to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, the NFC West takes the title of the NFL’s best division this season. The Niners are looking to avoid a Super Bowl hangover, and they have the roster to do just that—including the addition of star left tackle Trent Williams to replace the recently-retired Joe Staley. Seattle made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason by acquiring All-Pro safety Jamal Adams this summer. The two division favorites might make for the best one-two in the league, and both should make the postseason; but the Rams should not be discounted after making the Super Bowl just a couple of years ago. Also, the Cardinals are a trendy dark horse pick as Kyler Murray enters his second NFL season with All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins now at his disposal.
2. NFC South
It was a toss-up between the NFC West and the NFC South for the best division in football for 2020, and the Saints and Buccaneers should rival the 49ers and Seahawks for the best divisional top-two this fall. No one really knows for sure right now, and we’ll see what happens when the games actually get underway, but I don’t think people understand how potent the Bucs roster is on both sides of the ball. The Saints have a similarly strong roster, but the NFC South should be much tougher than it has been the past few years. The Falcons have the talent and experience to make serious noise and push for the division title or at least one of the three wild-card spots. And it wouldn’t be a shock if the Panthers surprise everyone, but their defense concerns me a bit.
3. AFC South
The middle three or four divisions are probably the most difficult to rank this season, but I’ll put the AFC South at No. 3, as I could see the Titans, Texans, and Colts all winning the division and pushing for the top seed in the AFC if things go well. Houston has won the division in four of the past five seasons, and the Deshaun Watson and Bill O’Brien combo should have them in contention again this year. The Titans were a game away from the Super Bowl last season, and it’s scary to think they could take another step forward with the high-upside talent they have on the roster. The Colts are pretty stacked too, and it won’t be a surprise if Philip Rivers has a bit of a resurgence and gets into the league MVP mix behind Indy’s stout offensive line. The Jaguars are expected to finish near the bottom of the overall NFL standings in 2020.
4. NFC North
I’m likely going to pick the Bears to win the NFC North this season, and I believe the Packers and Vikings might both take a slight step back from 2019. Chicago had a disappointing season a year ago, but they still managed to finish 8-8 and now former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will look to lead the offense. There’s concern with the Packers given that it sounds like guys in the locker room expected a wide receiver to be taken in the first round before quarterback Jordan Love was selected, but we should see a determined Aaron Rodgers under center. The Vikings are doing some reshuffling on defense, but Mike Zimmer always gets his team to play well. If Matt Patricia can get his guys to buy-in for a make-or-break year, the Lions can make some noise with a healthy Matthew Stafford.
5. AFC West
The AFC West might blow away this ranking in a few months, but there are a lot of “what-ifs” behind the defending champion Chiefs. The Raiders, Broncos, and Chargers all have the upside to make legit playoff pushes and perhaps even make it a race with Kansas City for the AFC West, but all three teams could easily not take the leap in 2020 after a shortened offseason. At their best, the Raiders will be more explosive than they have been and a bully on offense and defense; the Broncos will ride a strong running game and defense; and the Chargers’ super-talented defense will match up with anyone and keep the team in close games.
6. AFC North
The Ravens are clearly an elite team, and there’s already talk of them going undefeated this season after Vegas had them favored in every game on the schedule. But with Ben Roethlisberger back and healthy, the Steelers could present a problem for Baltimore atop the division—Pittsburgh has the potential for both a top-five offense and a top-five defense. The Browns and Bengals are both in a see-it-to-believe-it spot for me.
7. AFC East
The Patriots have been hit very hard by player opt-outs due to COVID-19, but Bill Belichick should find a way to get his team to compete as usual. However, the Bills are probably the division favorites now, as head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane have built a hard-working roster that also has plenty of talent. The Jets finished 2019 with a 6-2 mark down the stretch, and they could make a playoff push if Sam Darnold and the offense can make a leap forward. Miami might have the best cornerback group in football, and they appear to have the right guy at head coach in Brian Flores. The AFC East might be ranked higher if there was a full offseason to allow more time for new players and schemes to get acclimated.
8. NFC East
It won’t be a shock if both East divisions are very competitive with a few teams in the postseason hunt down the stretch in each conference, so these final two divisions again show the current depth of the NFL. Hopefully Eagles head coach Doug Pederson can put his bout with COVID-19 behind him soon, but Philadelphia is in a good spot with their continuity on the coaching staff. The Cowboys have superb upside after adding Super Bowl winning head coach Mike McCarthy and stealing Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb in the middle of the first round. I see the Giants as a potential wild-card in the league this season, as quarterback Daniel Jones might prove the haters wrong and become a stud entering his season season. Especially if Alex Smith can continue his remarkable comeback and get on the field, the Washington Football Team has a potential formula to surprise people.