It’s an interesting time in the sport right now. Thanks to the stock market that is the National Football League’s offseason and Major League Baseball’s relaunch, some teams have found ways to strengthen while others rebuild and retool.
But it goes beyond the NFL and MLB. The National Basketball Association has seen a massive increase in competition with many surprise playoff contenders, while the National Hockey League has enough young players to fill an outdoor rink.
As a result, the status of each individual team and each division has changed. This made me wonder if I could find the most competitive divisions in each league.
MLB: AL East
Since the start of the Wild Card era in 1995, no division has been more represented in the playoffs. Including the 16-team playoffs midway through the shortened 2020 season, the AL East has had at least two reps in all but five playoffs (2000-02, 2006, 2014). They also have a history of success, winning more World Series (nine) than any other division in the same period. Thanks to the newly expanded postseason format, the AL East can become the first division to send four teams to the playoffs. They have the parts to do it.
The division has four ALCS contenders. Every team has a lot of power, whether it’s Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena for the Rays, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton for the Yankees, Rafael Devers and JD Martinez for the Red Sox or Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Matt Chapman for the Blue Jays. Toronto. . The pitching corps is equally important to the success of every team, from Gerrit Cole to Chris Sale to Jose Berrios. Their aces can confuse batters every time they come up to home plate. Baltimore holds the bottom spot at the moment, but who knows where all the other teams finish in the standings this year.
NFL: AFC West
If you thought AFC West couldn’t get busier, think again.
We’ll start with the Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes’ No. 1 receiving option at Tyreek Hill may have left for Miami, but he still has the best tight end in football in Travis Kelce. Their defense remains stellar, but wait until you meet the Los Angeles Chargers. Joey Bosa wasn’t enough, so they acquired Khalil Mack from the Bears to tackle anything in sight. Include free agency’s JC Jackson in the secondary, and the Chargers could rule out at least five opponents next season.
Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos are going through their biggest offseason since 2012. Russell Wilson joins, becomes the franchise’s new quarterback and has incredible receiving options such as Jerry Jeudy and Cortland Sutton. Include a secondary featuring Justin Simmons and Patrick Surtain II and it’s a dangerous team on both sides of the ball. The Las Vegas Raiders also feel good because they traded Davante Adams to become the new WR1, enough said.
I’m keeping an eye out for these four teams as each could either win the split or finish in last place.
I had a hard time figuring out which NBA division is the toughest, but when it comes to talent pool, the Pacific Division takes the cake.
It starts with household names like Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Devin Booker, all of whom are unstoppable forces who will one day be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame. It goes beyond these three. Until Curry was injured, the Warriors and Suns were vying to determine both the king of the division and the king of the NBA.
Los Angeles sits in the middle. The Lakers disappointed everyone while the Clippers struggled. You wouldn’t think it’s a rivalry since the Clippers have won their last seven games since July 2020, but the media continues to debate who the best team in Los Angeles is. Especially with the return of Paul George, the landscape of the division will change even more.
Finally, there are the Sacramento Kings, who traded Tyrese Haliburton. They don’t have as many draft picks as the Thunder, but if they get the right plays, they have a fighting chance to bring even more firepower to the division.
The Eastern Conference has its playoff teams all but locked down. Most spots in the Western Conference, with the exception of the Colorado Avalanche, are up for grabs. The talented Avalanche team is on the verge of winning its second consecutive President’s Trophy.
The Minnesota Wild recently traded for Marc-Andre Fleury and have a point machine in Kirill Kaprizov. Then there are the Nashville Predators, who have found their goaltender in Juuse Saros while Filip Forsberg is enjoying a career year. Not far behind are the St. Louis Blues, a quiet offensive team with excellent goaltending from Ville Husso.
The Dallas Stars are on the bubble, but with three fewer games played than the Vegas Golden Knights, the Stars are in good shape to steal a playoff berth at the end of April. Follow that with the Winnipeg Jets, led by 40-goal scorers Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele, and the midfield is just as electric.
Downstairs are the Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes. The Blackhawks make this division competitive thanks to Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews. Coyotes are Coyotes. Put them all together and you have a division where the results are unknown every day.
It’s like an instantaneous speed reading, it’s a snapshot of a moment in time. There are other divisions that are just as competitive, and depending on what happens next, they might overtake my picks as the most competitive division. We don’t know what the future holds, but right now these are the divisions that are the most competitive.