NFL Division Winner's
(Ben Liebenberg/Associated Press)

NFL Division Winner’s Chances of Repeating in 2021 Ranked

It feels as if each year we see at least one of the NFL division winner’s endure a massive collapse from where they left off the season before. Last year, teams such as the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles saw themselves take a downfall after winning their respective divisions in 2019. This year, any top team in the NFL from the 2020 season can find themselves falling in the standings. Here we rank all eight of the NFL division winner’s from the 2020 season based on their chances to repeat in 2021.

1. Buffalo Bills, AFC East

The Bills are one of the more complete rosters in the league. With Josh Allen’s breakout season last year to go with Stefon Diggs emergence as a top 5 receiver in the NFL, the offense saw major success in the passing attack throughout 2020. Yet the rushing attack wasn’t able to get off its feet with Allen coming in second on the team only 250 yards behind leading rusher Devin Singletary. Sean McDermott brought in speedy veteran running back Matt Breida in free agency who, if healthy, can flourish in Buffalo’s high paced offense. With what looks to be 6 divisional games against first or second year quarterbacks, Buffalo has the experience and the talent on both sides of the ball to not only win the division but also make a deep playoff run.

2. Kansas City Chiefs, AFC West

Making a Super Bowl appearance each of the past two years, Patrick Mahomes has made it clear that his incredible 2019 MVP season was no fluke. Entering his fifth year in the league but only fourth as a starter, Mahomes has been given all the tools necessary to make another championship run. Seeking their sixth consecutive AFC West division title, Kansas City will be tasked with having to beat out the much improved Los Angeles Chargers. A team with a spew of offseason additions that should bolster their starting lineup on both sides of the ball, the Chargers will look for Justin Herbert to continue to grow into one of the league’s best young quarterbacks. Don’t sleep on the Denver Broncos either who could be a dark horse if they can find consistent QB play. Though with the weapons at Mahomes disposal, it will take a lot for any team to come knocking on the Chiefs door.

3. Green Bay Packers, NFC North

Of course this all depends on what happens to Aaron Rodgers throughout the next couple months regarding his unhappiness with the team. The reigning MVP has been the talk of the offseason alongside Deshaun Watson for wanting a fresh start in a new city. If Rodgers does end up staying, Green Bay will be returning one of the top QB-RB-WR trios in the league with Davante Adams and the resigning of Aaron Jones during the offseason. Green Bay will also be displaying what many believe to be one of the more underrated defenses in the league for this upcoming season, something Matt LeFleur may have to rely on if Rodgers time in Lambeau Field has come to an end.

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4. Tennessee Titans, AFC South

The Jaguars and Texans seem to be in rebuild mode for at least this upcoming season making Tennessee’s only true challenger Indianapolis, who could see themselves as serious contenders if Carson Wentz can avoid the turnovers in his new city. With the losses of Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith and wideout Corey Davis, there’s skepticism as to if Tennessee’s offense will return to its same form that saw the team put up 29.6 points per game in 2020. It will also be interesting to see if Tennessee’s defense will be able to hold its own, specifically a front seven that put up the third least amount of sacks in the league last year.

5. Washington Football Team, NFC East

With the return of a healthy Dak Prescott to an already talented Dallas Cowboys team, the NFC East could be one of the more unpredictable divisions in 2021, but I can’t seem to get over Washington’s defense. A stacked secondary led by veteran Landon Collins to go with a front seven that consists of Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Jamin Davis, the talent on this defense is incredible. On the offensive side of the ball, Terry McLaurin will look to continue his incredible play that has produced over 2,000 receiving yards through his first two seasons despite subpar QB play; Antonio Gibson will attempt to repeat his rookie season which saw him amass 1,000 scrimmage yards, and the addition of Curtis Samuel will call for teams to have to shift their focus off McLaurin in the passing game. With good QB play the Washington Football Team could be one of the surprise NFL division winner’s for the 2021 season.

6. Seattle Seahawks, NFC West

Throughout his career, Russell Wilson has been sacked an average of 43.8 times per season, more than any quarterback since the 1970 merger. With multiple offseason additions to help bolster the trenches, the Seattle offense has a chance to be dominant if Wilson is given enough time in the pocket to find D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, or newly signed tight end Gerald Everett. The defense also showed vast improvement at the end of the year, going from one of the league’s worst to one of the league’s best in the last 5 games. If the o-line is able to take that stride, the only problem for Seattle becomes that they are in the NFC West. A 49ers defense who will return multiple players from injury, An Arizona team flooded with multiple former All-Pro’s, and a Rams team who will finally get the consistent QB play that they have been looking for. Come Week 18, there is a strong chance all four of these teams are in a race to claim the division.

7. New Orleans Saints, NFC South

When you lose one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Drew Brees to retirement and still have to go against Tom Brady and Matt Ryan four times a year, a lot must be done if you want to repeat as division champions. Finishing in the top five for points allowed and yards allowed last year as a defense, New Orleans returns a sneaky good unit even despite the loss of Janoris Jenkins. Nevertheless, an above average defense can’t guarantee anything in the NFC South and New Orleans will hope to find their successor to Brees. Let’s not forget that ridiculous contract extension Sean Payton gave Taysom Hill this offseason or the fact that Jameis Winston was the NFL’s leading passing yards leader just two seasons ago.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers, AFC North

This team has loads of talent but then again so do each of their division rivals. Who knows how much Big Ben has left in the tank and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his numbers start to dip below average. Having lost five of their last six to end the 2020 season, teams were finally able to set the blueprint on how to stop the Steelers and they never looked back. With the offseason addition of Najee Harris in the NFL Draft, Pittsburgh will be looking for big years from their countless young skill position players. Defensively, Pittsburgh will have to face two of the most high powered offenses in the league in Cleveland and Baltimore. Don’t count out Cincinnati either who was able to put together a very nice offseason under Head Coach Zac Taylor.

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