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Fact or Fiction: Best NFL divisions by position

SAQUON-ZEKE

The NFC East is the deepest division at running back.

Lance Medow: Fact - I think the NFC East and AFC North are very close, but I'll give the edge to the NFC East. The Cowboys have Ezekiel Elliott, who has led the NFL in rushing in two his first four seasons in the league, the Giants and Eagles each showcase young dynamic running backs in Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders, respectively, and Washington leans on Adrian Peterson, who continues to perform at a high level (despite entering his 14th NFL season). The AFC North has Baltimore's 1-2 punch in Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards, the Cleveland duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Joe Mixon does the heavy lifting in Cincinnati and James Conner in Pittsburgh. Each division goes four deep with reliable options out of the backfield, but I think the NFC East has more game-changers and decorated options.

Dan Salomone: Fact - This is an easy one. Saquon Barkley led the NFL in scrimmage yards as a rookie. Washington's Adrian Peterson is a former NFL MVP and three-time rushing champion. Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott has led the league in rushing twice. The defense that can stop the run will win this division.

Photos of Giants running back Saquon Barkley.

The NFC South is the deepest division at quarterback.

Medow: Fact - It's the NFC South by a landslide, with starters Matt Ryan, Teddy Bridgewater, Drew Brees and Tom Brady - a group that has combined for 32 Pro Bowls, 11 All-Pro designations, 11 Super Bowl appearances (seven victories and five game MVPs) and four regular season MVPs. Is there anything else that needs to be said? There's no other division that comes close in terms of proven veteran commodities with that type of combined resume. In addition, there are two veteran backups within the division: Matt Schaub (Falcons) and Jameis Winston (Saints).

Salomone: Fact - In a few years, it could very well be the NFC East. For now, it's the NFC South, especially after the arrival of Tom Brady with Tampa Bay. But part of their success needs to be attributed to the receivers in that division. The NFC South boasts Julio Jones in Atlanta, Michael Thomas in New Orleans and Mike Evans in Tampa Bay.

The NFC North is the deepest division at edge rusher.

Medow: Fact - If your division is going to hold this title, you'll need four teams that each have two solid pass rushers or at least one game-changer. As proven last year, the Packers have one of the best tandems in the NFL with outside linebackers Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith, who each had double-digit sacks and combined for 25.5. The Bears aren't too shabby with the likes of Khalil Mack and newly signed free-agent Robert Quinn. Mack is a five-time Pro Bowler, who won NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and Quinn recorded a team-high 11.5 sacks with Dallas in 2019. Even though the Vikings have parted ways with Everson Griffen, replacement Ifeadi Odenigbo is coming off a breakout campaign with seven sacks (Not bad for a 2017 seventh-round pick.). Opposite bookend Danielle Hunter has piled up 14.5 sacks in consecutive seasons while making the Pro Bowl in each campaign. The Lions may be the only team with some questions opposite Trey Flowers. But former Giant Romeo Okwara had 7.5 sacks in 2018 during in his first season with Detroit, and the Lions signed outside linebacker Jamie Collins in free agency. Collins is coming off a seven-sack season with New England and will be reunited with former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

Salomone: Fiction - In terms of the volume of players who can get after the quarterback, the NFC North might be the deepest for all the reasons Lance has listed above. When they're firing on all cylinders, those four teams can be relentless for opposing quarterbacks. But something about having Chandler Jones (Cardinals}, Aaron Donald (Rams), and Nick Bosa (makes the NFC West the best in my eyes. They are game-wreckers.

The AFC East is the deepest division at defensive back.

Medow: Fact - I'm going with a "fact" sweep this week. I think the AFC West belongs in the conversation (based on what the Chargers and Broncos showcase), but from top to bottom the AFC East takes the cake. The Bills have arguably the best secondary in the league, with safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde to go along with top corner Tre'Davious White. A mix of Josh Norman, Levi Wallace and Taron Johnson rounds out a deep group. The Patriots have the McCourty twins as well as one of the best corners in the league in Stephon Gilmore and polished safety Patrick Chung. Miami made a big splash this off-season by signing former Cowboys corner Byron Jones to pair with Xavien Howard and rookie Noah Igbinoghene. Although the Dolphins may have some questions at safety, that corner group is formidable and the Jets have a nice 1-2 punch at safety (Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye) and they signed former Colt Pierre Desir to bolster the corner position.

Salomone: Fact - In the earlier segment about quarterbacks, I talked about how they go hand-in-hand with their receivers. Similarly, you need to have the conversation about the AFC East coaches and their defensive backs. Bill Belichick's defensive mind needs no further discussion in New England. Head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier know a thing or two about defense in Buffalo. Super Bowl-winning coordinator Gregg Williams is in his second season with the Jets. And Miami's Brian Flores and Josh Boyer won multiple Super Bowls while assistants on Belichick's defensive staff. The skill and knowledge in this division put it over the top.

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