Marshall Faulk (@marshallfaulk) December 3, 2014
There was a time, not all that long ago, when the NFC East, with the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and even the Washington Redskins was called the NFC bEast. The three teams at the top were always in contention, and the division was a threat to take both NFC wildcard spots in the playoffs.
As such things do, that time has now past. After a run of 8-8 seasons by Dallas, a rebuild by Philly, New York going through its own rebuilding phase, and Washington going through quarterbacks and head coaches at an incredible clip, the NFC East is just another conference.
There are two contenders for the title of "Toughest Division In The NFL", and for my money they are the NFC West, and the AFC North.
The NFC West boasts the reigning Superbowl champion Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49'ers -- who have been to the NFC championship game each of the last 3 years, representing the NFC in the Superbowl in 2012 -- and the division leading Arizona Cardinals. The St. Louis Rams, though last in the division and below .500, are a dangerous team dragged down by injuries to their quarterbacks.
While the West is the best division in the NFC, they aren't the toughest in the NFL. To me, that distinction goes to the AFC North. The NFC North is the only division in the NFL where all four of its teams are over .500. As of now, the Cincinnati Bengals are atop the division with an 8-3 record, while the Steelers, Ravens, and Cleveland Browns are all tied for second -- or last, depending on your philosophical bent -- with 7-5 records.
As of this writing, any of the four teams from the AFC North could win the division. The Bengals remaining games are all within the division, while the Steelers, Ravens, and Browns all have division games and games with teams also vying for playoff berths. It is even possible that that division could send three teams to the playoffs.
However it shakes out, the Black And Blue Division is the class of the NFL right now.