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Unstable Divisions

The AFC East was a very stable division over the past two years. The Patriots won 12 games in 2012 and 12 more in 2013. The Bills, with six wins in 2013, also repeated their 2012 win total. Miami won 7 games in 2012, and then 8 last year. And the Jets followed up a 6-10 season in 2012 with an 8-8 season last year. That’s about as stable as a division can get. The four teams saw their win totals move by an aggregate of just three wins, making the 2012-2013 AFC East the most stable division since realignment.

On the other end of the spectrum: the NFC South. The Falcons dropped from 13 wins in 2012 to just four last year. The Panthers jumped from 7 wins in 2012 to 12 last year, and it didn’t even take Bill Parcells to do it. New Orleans also won seven games in 2012, but jumped to 12 wins in 2013. The team that saw the least movement in the NFC South last year was Tampa Bay, but the Bucs still fell from 7 wins to 4 wins, matching the total movement by all AFC East teams. As a group, NFC South teams had a change of 21 wins from 2012 to 2013, the most of any division since realignment.

That’s hardly new for the NFC South, or for that matter, the AFC East. Since realignment, the NFC South has easily been the league’s most unstable division: the Falcons, Saints, Bucs, and Panthers have seen their win totals fluctuate by an average total of 18.8 wins per year, beginning with the 2002-2003 seasons. The AFC East has been incredibly stable: no team has ever finished with more wins than New England, while the Bills have finished last or tied for last eight times since realignment. As a result, the average movement among AFC East teams — in the aggregate — has been just 6.3 wins.

RkDivisionChange in Wins/YrChange # Wins/Tm Yr
1NFC South15.73.9
2NFC North13.33.3
3AFC West11.93.3
4AFC North11.93.0
5AFC South11.72.9
6NFC East11.32.8
7NFC West10.82.7
8AFC East10.82.7

The table below shows the average change in win totals, in the aggregate, for each of division in each set of years since 2002.

RkDivisionYearsChange in Wins
1NFC South2012--201321
2AFC East2007--200820
4.5NFC North2011--201219
4.5NFC South2009--201019
4.5NFC East2004--200519
4.5AFC East2004--200519
8.5AFC South2010--201118
8.5NFC North2007--200818
8.5NFC South2005--200618
8.5NFC South2004--200518
11AFC North2002--200317.5
14.5AFC South2011--201217
14.5AFC West2009--201017
14.5NFC South2008--200917
14.5NFC North2006--200717
14.5AFC North2006--200717
14.5AFC West2002--200317
18AFC North2007--200816.5
23.5NFC East2012--201315
23.5AFC West2011--201215
23.5NFC North2010--201115
23.5NFC West2010--201115
23.5NFC South2010--201115
23.5NFC North2009--201015
23.5NFC West2009--201015
23.5AFC East2006--200715
23.5AFC North2005--200615
23.5AFC West2003--200415
29NFC South2002--200314.5
31NFC West2011--201214
31AFC South2005--200614
31NFC North2004--200514
36AFC South2012--201313
36NFC South2011--201213
36NFC South2007--200813
36AFC East2005--200613
36AFC East2003--200413
36AFC South2003--200413
36NFC East2002--200313
45NFC North2012--201312
45AFC North2009--201012
45NFC East2006--200712
45AFC West2006--200712
45NFC South2006--200712
45AFC West2005--200612
45NFC East2005--200612
45AFC North2004--200512
45NFC South2003--200412
45NFC West2003--200412
45NFC West2002--200312
51.5NFC East2008--200911.5
51.5AFC North2008--200911.5
56AFC West2012--201311
56NFC North2008--200911
56NFC West2006--200711
56NFC North2005--200611
56AFC South2004--200511
56AFC North2003--200411
56AFC East2002--200311
63AFC South2009--201010
63NFC East2009--201010
63AFC South2008--200910
63AFC South2007--200810
63NFC West2007--200810
63AFC West2004--200510
63NFC North2002--200310
68NFC East2011--20129
68NFC West2005--20069
68NFC West2004--20059
70NFC East2007--20088.5
73.5NFC West2012--20138
73.5AFC North2011--20128
73.5AFC West2010--20118
73.5AFC East2009--20108
73.5AFC South2006--20078
73.5NFC East2003--20048
78AFC East2010--20117
78AFC West2008--20097
78AFC West2007--20087
81AFC North2010--20116
81NFC East2010--20116
81AFC East2008--20096
83AFC South2002--20035
85.5AFC North2012--20134
85.5AFC East2011--20124
85.5NFC West2008--20094
85.5NFC North2003--20044
88AFC East2012--20133
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