2. NFC East
I went back and forth on the positioning of the NFC East and NFC North. While the East does not have a QB ranked as highly as Stafford this season in terms of statistics, it does have Dak Prescott, who is also an MVP candidate. Prescott is obviously helped by a historically dominant offensive line and the league’s best rushing attack, but he is putting together possibly the best season for a rookie quarterback in NFL history. The Cowboys are 10–1, he’s thrown two picks compared to 18 touchdowns, and he’s handled the Tony Romo-looming-over-his-shoulder dynamic with poise and aplomb.
But what places the NFC East over the North is that there is no Jay Cutler here: The rest of the QBs in this division range somewhere from average to above average. Kirk Cousins is proving his haters wrong and coining catchphrases at a borderline unsustainable rate. Over the last 20 weeks, he has the highest passer rating of any QB in the league. Carson Wentz has slowed down considerably after his torrid start to the season, but he was so good early that it balances out his poor performances of late. And Eli Manning is, well, Eli Manning—one of the most inconsistent star quarterbacks of all-time. He’s on pace for another 4,200-plus-yard, 30-touchdown season, yet still throws confounding interceptions that lose his team games, and still hasn’t quite figured out how to get the best out of Odell Beckham Jr. consistently this season. But since this is the only division (except our winner) that doesn’t have one QB drastically dragging down the group, it slots in at No. 2. It’s the ‘you’re only as strong as your weakest link’ corollary.