With the NFL offseason in full swing, anticipation for the upcoming season is reaching a fever pitch. Bombshell trades and surprise releases and signings have filled the daily news ticker across the screens of every major network. What if Roger Goodell decided that the league needed a shake-up? If I were Commissioner Goodell, here’s how I would realign all 32 teams. Maintaining integral rivalries while creating new traditions would be the forefront of the realignment.
Every football fan knows which teams are currently in their respective conferences. I am well aware that this will not please 100% of my readers. In my opinion, the league would benefit from a shake-up.
New Look AFC West
The AFC West division is absolutely loaded this coming season. Every team with the exception of the Kansas City Chiefs have restocked their rosters with talent from top to bottom. Denver, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles have all made great strides offensively and defensively. Geographically speaking, the Los Angeles Chargers would swap places with the Arizona Cardinals.
The swap does not lessen the Quarterback star-power of the division. Justin Herbert would be on the move to the NFC West while Kyler Murray moves into the AFC West. The young, rising quarterbacks would still be as important to their new divisions. The prospect of Kyler Murray playing Patrick Mahomes twice a year is appetizing for any NFL fan.
Current- Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs
New Look- Arizona Cardinals, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Las Vegas Raiders, and the Denver Broncos
New Look NFC West
The NFC West could use another standout, electric team in their division. The Los Angeles Rams are the reigning Super Bowl Champions. The San Francisco 49ers have been a fringe superpower for the last few years. Their defense is incredible. Seattle is entering a full-on rebuild. Pete Carroll is entering his first season as the Seahawks head coach without Russel Wilson as his starting quarterback since 2011. The Los Angeles Chargers inject an immediate adversary to the Rams for the top of the division. With the Chargers assembling a star-studded defense, a showdown with the high-powered passing attack of the Rams would be fun to watch.
Current- Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, and Arizona Cardinals.
New Look- Seattle Seahawks, the Los Angeles Chargers, the Los Angeles Rams, and the San Francisco 49ers.
No Change NFC North
The NFC North is the most logical division in football in terms of geography. If you look at a map of the NFL teams, this division makes the most sense. All four teams are in close proximity. Traveling to the other team’s stadium as a fan is not a cumbersome, nearly three-day event like a Washington fan traveling to Dallas. For the reasons listed, the NFC North stays fully intact.
Current/New Look- Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, and Detroit Lions.
New Look AFC North
The first division of the NFL to receive an entire facelift based on geography is the AFC North. Currently, this division consists of four teams that define smash-mouth football. When you think of the AFC North, you think of the historic Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry. The defending AFC Champions reside in the North. The seemingly forever-lasting ineptitude of the Cleveland Browns lingers in the division. In terms of geographical location, all four teams relocate.
Three-fourths of the Current AFC East would relocate the AFC North. The New England Patriots, New York Jets, and Buffalo Bills would make up a majority of the new-look AFC North. The fourth team to join the division would be current NFC East bottom dweller New York Giants. Adding the Giants would ensure an entire division of teams accustomed to the frigid winter months of the latter part of the season. The Jets and Giants could adopt a similar season ticket PCL Holder plan similar to what the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers do during the NBA Season. The same applies to the LA Rams and Chargers.
Current- Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Cleveland Browns
New Look- New York Jets, the New York Giants, the New England Patriots, and the Buffalo Bills
New Look NFC East
The NFC East is one of the more classic, throwback divisions in football. A ton of history in this division. America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys, has a considerable amount of the division’s history in the league. Some of the greatest players and coaches have donned the star on their helmets and hats. The Washington Commanders, former the Redskins, were a force to be reckoned with in the 1980s. Lawrence Taylor put the New York Giants on the map and Eli Manning brought two Super Bowl titles to the division. Philadelphia brought home their first ring a mere four seasons ago.
When it comes to geographical alignment, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers supplant the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. This alignment keeps the division to the DC/Maryland/Pennsylvania area. There are a lot of Steelers and Eagles fans in the Baltimore area. The DMV area has Steelers fans scattered throughout as well. Just across the Mason-Dixon Line, you will certainly find a heavy presence of the Ravens Flock fanbase. This alignment also gives legitimacy to the Ravens-Commanders Interstate 95 rivalry and maintains the legendary Baltimore-Pittsburgh rivalry.
Current- Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Commanders, New York Giants
New Look- Washington Commanders, the Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Philadelphia Eagles
New Look AFC East
Currently, the AFC East has three teams geographically in the northern US and one team in Florida. The current alignment presents games that feature teams completely out of their playing elements. Miami is hot almost all season long. They could be playing in 85-degree weather with 100% humidity one week and the next week they’re in Buffalo in a blizzard. While that sounds fun to some, most Miami fans will not make that trip 9/10 times.
Under this realignment, The AFC East will have four new teams as well. Cincinnati and Cleveland make the move from the AFC North. Indianapolis joins from the AFC South, and the Carolina Panthers enter from the NFC South. This setup keeps the Ohio teams together, keeps the Colts in close proximity to their division foes, and Carolina gets a fresh start away from the once-loaded NFC South. Not playing Tom Brady twice a year would be appealing. It would ultimately create an interesting headline, considering Indianapolis and Carolina tried their hand in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes.
Current- New England Patriots, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins
New Look- Carolina Panthers, the Cleveland Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Indianapolis Colts
New Look NFC South
The NFC South is currently one of the weaker divisions in football. Carolina cannot seem to find the playoffs. The Atlanta Falcons traded franchise quarterback Matt Ryan to the Colts. The New Orleans Saints are in the post-Sean Payton era. Tampa Bay has seemingly stayed intact for the third consecutive year. Tom Brady is back for his 23rd season. Chris Godwin was franchise tagged and Leonard Fournette signed a new three-year deal. Gronk is probably back for his third season in Tampa, as well. The division is Tampa’s to lose.
Under this realignment, New Orleans is the only team that remains in the NFC South. The Dallas Cowboys join the fray from the NFC East. to round out the division, the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans move over from the AFC South. This division would instantly be the new home of smash-mouth football. Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry, and Ezekiel Elliott would collide in the same division. Three of the top ten running backs in the game meet twice a year head to head. Houston and Tennessee maintain their storied rivalry. New Orleans and Dallas would make for an interesting matchup when Sean Payton replaces Mike McCarthy as the Dallas Cowboys coach in 2023 after another inevitable late-season choke job.
Current- Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers
New Look- Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Texans, the Tennessee Titans, and the New Orleans Saints
New Look AFC South
To round out the league-wide realignment, we reach the AFC South. Currently, the AFC South is being dominated by the Tennessee Titans. The Colts have added Matt Ryan. The Jacksonville Jaguars overspent on mediocre players, as usual. Must we not forget the enigmatic Houston Texans. Houston is a walking dumpster fire. They have been the reason of their own demise for a few years now. Trading Nuke Hopkins to Arizona for a bag of footballs. Letting JJ Watt leave via free agency. Deshaun Watson and that entire debacle. All of this to set up first-time head coach David Culley to fail from the start. But I digress.
The new AFC South would feature the rebuilding Atlanta Falcons along with the three teams residing in Florida. Tom Brady makes his way back to the AFC. The potentially electric Miami Dolphins join the division along with the perennial rebuilding Jacksonville Jaguars. This alignment would be intriguing. Tua, Tom Brady, Trevor Lawrence, and Marcus Mariota duking it out for the division. I am in the minority that believes Mariota will rejuvenate his career in Atlanta.
Current- Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, and Jacksonville Jaguars
New Look- Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Miami Dolphins, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Atlanta Falcons
The Possibilities Are Endless
With this realignment, we could get some dream matchups in the Super Bowl. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers could meet. Tampa and the Los Angeles Rams. Baltimore and Buffalo. Tampa and Dallas. Cincinnati and Baltimore. The possibilities are indeed realistic.