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Crazy Hypotheticals: Realigning the NFL Divisions

In the midst of the grind of the NFL offseason, sports writers find themselves asking the tough questions. Questions like, "if the NFL divisions were realigned, what would they look like?"

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

The NFL offseason is a trying time for even the most hardcore football fans. From February to June, the offseason calendar is like the dry season of the Nile River. The football flood plains are bare, cracked, and devoid of life and we are left offering our prayers to the god of the annual flood, Hapi, to bring a swift end to the drought with the rich, silty life-water of training camp.

Unfortunately, Hapi only has authority over swift-moving bodies of water, so we are out of luck until July. In the meantime, though, we must keep ourselves entertained any way we can, and sometimes that means zany thought experiments. Thought experiments like realigning the NFL divisions, which is exactly what National Football Post's Joe Fortenbaugh did in his latest article.

Taking into account geographic proximity and a new batch of NFL rivalries, Fortenbaugh blew up the current divisions and pieced them back together into a new configuration. In Fortenbaugh's new AFC North, only the Bengals remain.


Teams: Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts
Nickname: High Cholesterol
Longest travel distance prior: Baltimore to Cincinnati at 523 miles
Longest travel distance after: Cincinnati to Green Bay at 501 miles
Phrase most often heard at divisional matchups: "Nice dome, Colts."

There’s just no way you can bust up the Green Bay-Chicago rivalry, so we’ll substitute Minnesota and Detroit for a couple of up-and-comers that feature two young quarterbacks who have already combined for three playoff appearances. Had Chicago not collapsed down the stretch last season, this division would feature four playoff teams from the 2012 campaign. Cincinnati says goodbye to the Ravens and Steelers while Indy fans are probably cringing at the thought of replacing Jacksonville with Green Bay. This division offers some of the best tailgating treats of any on the list.

This new division hardly has any resemblance to the current one. Gone are the tough-as-nails defenses of the AFC North. They've been replaced by high-octane offenses with porous defensive units. Also gone is the run first, ground-and-pound offensive strategy of recent years. With quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck, the passing game would take center stage in this new AFC North. Despite all of the changes, however, the aptly-named "High Cholesterol" division would still remain very competitive, as three out of the four teams made the playoffs last year.

So what do you think, Bengals fans? Would you mind swapping out the Ravens, Steelers, and Browns for the Bears, Packers, and Colts? Personally, I would hate to miss the opportunity to sweep our current division foes every year, so I would be against any changes. But it's the offseason and we desperately need a break from all the Andre Smith talk, so we might as well distract ourselves with crazy hypotheticals.

How, then, would you realign the new AFC North?