“Which division is the strongest” is an ever-evolving debate in the NFL. The 2021 season is the second year that seven teams from each conference advance to the playoffs. More places mean more chances and it’s more likely than ever that three teams from the same league will make it to the postseason.
Last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, and Cleveland Browns carried the torch for AFC North, but there weren’t any triplets leading their way into the NFC. Change is fast in the NFL, so here’s a look at which three divisions are best suited to fill those wildcard spots in 2021.
Offensive scorin ‘and we got big guns
– San Francisco 49ers (@ 49ers) August 31, 2021
The divisions where 3 teams are most likely to reach the 2021 NFL playoffs are …
# 1 NFC West
There is every chance that all four teams will finish with a winning record in NFC West. Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers finished last in the division after being decimated by injury and hitting 6-10, but the addition of rookie quarterback Trey Lance could fuel an already high-octane offensive.
Last season the Los Angeles Rams went 10-6 and won a wild card game with Jared Goff under the middle. Adding Matthew Stafford to head coach Sean McVay’s creative offensive could make a difference for the team and former Detroit Lions quarterback who has every chance of becoming an MVP contender in his new home.
Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks have now made the playoffs nine times in the last 10 seasons, and Kyler Murray’s continued development gives the Arizona Cardinals at Kliff Kingsbury the chance to compete in an charged division. It’s going to be an uphill battle for the Cardinals, but it would be far from surprising to see three NFC West teams in the postseason.
# 2 AFC North
Ben Roethlisberger” height = “533” width = “800” /> Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
This could be one last run for Ben Roethlisberger. AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers switched to their longtime quarterback by incorporating Najee Harris in the first round and a number of other offensive pieces into the draft.
Lamar Jackson has led the Baltimore Ravens to three games in a row in the playoffs and fell short in the divisional round last year. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns have broken their 18-year post-season drought in 2020 and are expected to make the playoffs their own domain under head coach Kevin Stefanski.
With Joe Burrow as quarterback, the Cincinnati Bengals are the underdogs. But if one of the three main competitors falls, it’s not out of the question that Zac Taylor’s underdogs could pose a challenge if all the pieces fit together.
# 3 AFC West
It’s a tight call for last place on this podium, but AFC West has the edge over the other divisions in this conference. It would take big breakout seasons from rookie quarterbacks Zach Wilson of the New York Jets or Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars to add a third playoff contender in their respective divisions – although that’s not out of the realm of possibility.
If Patrick Mahomes stays healthy, the Kansas City Chiefs will be suspended to promotion from AFC West. The Denver Broncos have a near Super Bowl-ready roster if they can get Teddy Bridgewater above average quarterback play, and with Justin Herbert running the show, the Los Angeles Chargers have no limits.
General Manager Mike Mayock claims the Las Vegas Raiders “must be in the playoffs” this season. For this, at least one league competitor has to fail. Anyway, there’s a good chance a third AFC West team can beat an AFC North team for a wildcard spot in the January football race.
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