The first step towards making the playoffs and ultimately fighting for a shot at a championship is having success within one’s division. Six games a year are played against divisional foes. This makes divisional games extra important because they make up a large portion of a schedule and it offers the best chance to jump ahead of divisional teams in the standings. So, which teams this upcoming season will have the toughest divisional road to the playoffs?

            The Super Bowl champion Ravens hail from the typically strong AFC North, but the division is expected to be down this year with the Ravens losing key players and the Steelers also expected to be down. The NFC West should be very strong, with the 49ers and the Seahawks entrenching themselves as some of the league’s best teams. Also, the NFC South features some of the league’s best and up and coming teams. Yet, none of these divisions will be the NFL’s most rugged.

            The NFC North contains four teams that could legitimately challenge to win the NFC and appear in the Super Bowl. The Green Bay Packers boast a dominant offense and an improved defense as they look to win the division once again. The Minnesota Vikings made some big moves, like signing WR Greg Jennings, to help Adrian Peterson and the offense. The Chicago Bears have a dangerous offense, and their defense will still be strong despite losing Brian Urlacher. Lastly, the Detroit Lions struggled a year ago, but the offense is still among the league’s best, and they made big strides this offseason to improve their defense. Two teams, at the least, from the NFC North should earn playoff births. However, it will be a dog fight as each team is very strong.