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Division of Powers

This year's AFC East could be among all-time best

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Posted: Wednesday November 22, 2000 10:11 PM
Updated: Tuesday November 28, 2000 6:21 PM

  Lamar Smith Lamar Smith and the Dolphins are leading the AFC East, but teams like the Jets are hot on their heels. Andy Lyons/Allsport

By Jacob Luft, CNNSI.com

Everyone knew the AFC East would be one of the best divisions in the NFL this season, but nobody expected four of the five teams to have at least seven victories in the first 11 games.

The Miami Dolphins lead the pack at 8-3 followed by the Colts, Bills and Jets, all at 7-4. The Patriots are in the cellar at 3-8.

Combining all their records, the AFC East has a .582 winning percentage (32-23). Maintaining that pace through the end of the season would make it the eighth-best division (see chart, below) since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger when the six-division format was created.

There have been only seven divisions that finished a season with four winning teams:

Stacked
Divisions with ...  No. 
Four winning teams ...
Three winning teams ...
No losing teams ...
7
53
3
 
 

  • 1998 AFC East: Jets (12-4), Dolphins (10-6), Bills (10-6) and Patriots (9-7).

  • 1997 NFC Central: Packers (13-3), Buccaneers (10-6), Lions (9-7), Vikings (9-7), Bears (4-12).

  • 1994 NFC Central: Vikings (10-6), Packers (9-7), Lions (9-7), Bears (9-7), Buccaneers (6-10).

  • 1988 AFC East: Bills (12-4), Colts (9-7), Patriots (9-7), Jets (8-7-1), Dolphins (6-10).

  • 1984 NFC East: Redskins (11-5), Giants (9-7), Cardinals (9-7) and Cowboys (9-7).

  • 1979 AFC West: Chargers (12-4), Broncos (10-6), Seahawks (9-7) and Raiders (9-7).

  • 1978 AFC West: Broncos (10-6), Raiders (9-7), Seahawks (9-7) and Chargers (9-7).

    Divisions with three winning teams is far more common; it's happened 54 times.

    The rarest accomplishment for a division is not to have any losing teams. That has been done three times: 1989 AFC Central; 1995 AFC West; 1999 AFC East.

    Below is a chart of the divisions with the highest aggregate wining percentages since 1970:

    Division of Powers
    Divisions with the best winning percentages since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
    Division  Year  Teams  Record  Pct. 
    AFC Central 1975 Pittsburgh (12-2)*
    Cincinnati (11-3)*
    Houston (10-4)
    Cleveland (3-11)
    36-20 .643
    AFC West 1984 Denver (13-3)*
    Seattle (12-4)*
    L.A. Raiders (11-5)*
    Kansas City (8-8)
    San Diego (7-9)
    51-29 .638
    AFC East 1999 Indianapolis (13-3)*
    Buffalo (11-5)*
    Miami (9-7)*
    N.Y. Jets (8-8)
    New England (8-8)
    49-31 .613
    AFC Central 1976 Pittsburgh (10-4)*
    Cincinnati (10-4)
    Cleveland (9-5)
    Houston (5-9)
    34-22 .607
    NFC West 1992 San Francisco (14-2)*
    New Orleans (12-4)*
    Atlanta (6-10)
    L.A. Rams (6-10)
    38-26 .594
    AFC West 1979 San Diego (12-4)*
    Denver (10-6)*
    Seattle (9-7)
    Oakland (9-7)
    Kansas City (7-9)
    47-33 .588
    NFC East 1991 Washington (14-2)*
    Dallas (11-5)*
    Philadelphia (10-6)
    N.Y. Giants (8-8)
    Phoenix (4-12)
    47-33 .588
    AFC East 2000 Miami (8-3)
    Indianapolis (7-4)
    New York (7-4)
    Buffalo (7-4)
    New England (3-8)
    32-23 .582
    * Made playoffs

     
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