Is AFC East really the toughest division?

Is the AFC East the league's most competitive division?

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft thinks so.

In talking about his optimism for the Patriots' chances, Kraft noted the journey will be difficult.

"I'm really excited about this season," Kraft told reporters Tuesday at his team's Kickoff Gala. "Watching the practices and seeing the players play in the preseason, with the good Lord's help and we don't have too many injuries, I think we have an excellent football team that will compete.

"Unfortunately, our division is probably the toughest division in the NFL this year. But you have to win all the games anyhow if you want to go to the playoffs. Our objective is to win our division."

I disagree with Kraft that the AFC East is the most rugged division. The New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Patriots are bunched together. Any of them could win the division and would be dangerous in the postseason. Perhaps all three will make the playoffs.

But in ranking a division, you have to consider all four teams, and the Buffalo Bills hurt Kraft's case. The Bills are 2-10 against the AFC East over the past two years.

On my ranking of divisions heading into 2010, the NFC East gets the nod because its worst team -- the Washington Redskins -- improved dramatically by hiring Mike Shanahan and trading for Donovan McNabb.

1. NFC East

2. AFC North

3. AFC East

4. AFC South

5. NFC South

6. NFC North

7. AFC West

8. NFC West