From NFC Worst to NFC Best? : A Look at the Rebirth of the NFC West


After a whirlwind of a weekend in the NFL, the dust has finally settled. And while teams are developing game plans for this week’s opponent, I’d like to shed some light on a quiet, yet growing line of thought regarding, not only the Seattle Seahawks, but the entire NFC West.

Sept. 9, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals strong safety Adrian Wilson (24) during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals beat the Seahawks 20-16. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

           Entering into the 2012 NFL season, it was widely believed that the class of the NFC as a whole, and most certainly for the NFC West, was the San Francisco 49ers. And with a 13-3 record in 2011, who’s to argue that? Returning all 11 of its defensive starters, while adding depth on the offensive line, as well as speed to its receiving corps, one would be remised to not entertain the thought that the 49ers were a shoe-in for a return to the NFC’s elite, and a deep playoff run. And while that’s all very well and good, entering Week 4 of the 2012 season has most experts scratching their head as to the resurgence of this once afterthought of a division.
         Week 1 started off with a rare inter-division matchup, as the ‘Hawks travelled down to Glendale and lost out in a defensive battle, 20-16. Many looked at this as a disappointing effort on the Seahawks part- as most gave Arizona, and its Quarterback carousel, little respect. However, sitting at 3-0, and in most publications Top 10, this team is the epitome of what has become a defensively dominant, offensively efficient division. Many look to the Baltimore Ravens of old as a blueprint for this style of football, and since they won a Super Bowl utilizing it, why not? Kevin Kolb seems to be on the road to redemption, while the Arizona run game sorts itself out, the defense has kept this team undefeated, even beating New England AT HOME. A statement win that helped spark the conversation regarding the new NFC West. The NFC “Worst”, no longer my friends.
         The Seattle Seahawks are 4th in Total Defense (yards per game), Arizona is 10th, the 49ers 11th, and even St. Louis is 19th. The Seahawks also lead the NFL in Scoring Defense, at 13 Points Per Game. The Cardinals are 2nd at 13.3, and the 49ers 11th at 21.7. 3 out of the 4 teams in this division boast top 15 defenses. The Rams, while sitting at 1-2 have been in all of their games, playing right alongside the Lions at home, beating the Redskins, and losing to a tough Chicago team at home. One play goes their way at the end of that Lions game, and you’ve got a one 3-0, and three 2-1 teams. I don’t know about you, but that’s something to be proud of. Talk about transforming an image that just a few years ago was reliant on West Coast Offenses, and “Greatest Shows on Turf”. Most called this division “soft”. And while these philosophies took the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Rams to Super Bowls, the general feeling I gather from the collective NFL is that this new physically dominant, brute force identity is definitely more roundly respected, if not borderline feared.
          The NFL Power Pendulum is a-swingin’ 12th Man. The NFL is no longer shouting from their posts that we’re part of the NFC Worst. Rather, they’re whispering the idea that this could be the NFC BEST. It’s still early in the season, but if the returns are any indication, they might be right.