Which division is most winnable for Detroit’s 4 major teams?

Detroit Free Press

Miraculously, the Detroit Tigers are just a few games behind in their division and have a legitimate chance to win the American League Central Division, despite being almost 10 games below .500. And they’re just now getting healthy.

But that got us thinking, which Detroit team has the most winnable division in their sport?

Now, that is much different than asking, “Which Detroit team has the best chance to win their division?” We could simply head to the sportsbooks if we wanted to answer that question.

What we’re deciphering is, assuming the Red Wings, Tigers, Lions and Pistons were good enough to compete, which division would be the most winnable?

Here’s what we came up with, starting with the hardest to win:

No. 4: NHL Atlantic

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how loaded this division is.

This division is absolutely loaded. The Boston Bruins set the record last year for most points ever in a season. In an 82 game season, the Bruins only lost 12 times in regulation. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Also in the division is the Tampa Bay Lightning, which has made three straight Stanley Cup Finals (2020-22) and won the trophy in back-to-back seasons.

Then there’s the Florida Panthers, who won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2022 and then made it to the Stanley Cup Final this year after an epic run through the playoffs.

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And of course, there’s the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have become known for their playoff shortcomings but are a consistent presence at the top of the standings.

Even if the Red Wings are able to right the ship, it could be a while before they can truly compete to win the Atlantic Division. Fortunately, they don’t need to win it to find success in the playoffs.

No. 3: NBA Central

Divisions really don’t matter in the NBA. Like, at all. The league even changed the rules a couple of years back so that division winners aren’t even guaranteed a spot in the playoffs anymore, though it’s highly unlikely that would happen as over half the NBA makes the playoffs.

But they do technically still exist, so let’s break it down.

The Central Division is top-heavy and projects to be that way for a long time and there is really one name that explains it: Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Greek Freak is a two-time MVP, an NBA champion and has won the division five years in a row in Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo got hurt in the playoffs and the Bucks lost to the Heat, but after re-signing Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton, they appear ready for another run.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are another up-and-coming team. They traded for Donovan Mitchell before the start of last season and finished 51-31 with a young nucleus that includes Evan Mobley and Darius Garland and more young talent.

The Chicago Bulls appear to be sort of stuck in the NBA’s purgatory of the middle, but the Indiana Pacers project as another rising team, led by point guard Tyrese Haliburton.

The Central Division should be tough for many years. But the good news is the Pistons don’t have to win it to be successful. They just have to survive it and be a high enough seed in the playoffs.

No. 2: NFC North

The Detroit Lions have never won the NFC North. In fact, the last time the Lions won their division, it was the “NFC Central,” which no longer exists.

But this year just might be the year.

Aaron Rodgers, long king of the NFC North, has left the division for the Big Apple. The Packers have won their division 15 times since the Lions last won their division in 1993. Obviously, not all of those were with Rodgers. But between him and Brett Favre, this really feels like the first time in decades that there isn’t an elite quarterback in the Lions’ way.

The Minnesota Vikings, who won the NFC North last year, feature quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver Justin Jefferson. But the general consensus seems to be their roster has taken a step back.

DraftKings Sportsbook lists the Lions as the favorites to win the division at plus-130, while the Packers are plus-160 and the Vikings at plus-250, with the Chicago Bears even further back at plus-450.

Until the Lions actually win the division and host a home playoff game, it will feel like a long shot. But curses and lack of faith aside, the NFC North is right there for the taking for the Lions.

No. 1: AL Central

The Tigers have had one of the weirdest seasons in recent memory, largely wrought with terrible injury luck. But not even that may be enough to completely sack their chances.

The AL Central is comically bad.

As of July 2, the five division teams were 502 runs below the AL East in run differential, which shows the sharp contrast between baseball’s haves and have nots.

It’s not particularly unusual to see bad divisions in sports. But what makes the AL Central especially bad is there is no great team at the top and the bottom also has one of the worst teams in the entire league, the Kansas City Royals, who are just a few games ahead of the Oakland Athletics. At one time they were on track to be the worst teams ever.

Despite the Tigers’ unwillingness to hand out any big contracts in the offseason, a laundry list of injuries (especially to starting pitchers), and just generally not that great of a roster, they are within striking distance of winning the division.

The AL Central takes the cake as the most winnable division.

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