In 2010, every team in the NFC West had a losing record.
The Seahawks “won” the division by finishing 7-9, the same record the St. Louis Rams finished with. The San Francisco 49ers came in third in the division with a 6-10 record while the Arizona Cardinals picked up the rear at 5-11.
Last year, the division turned the tide, becoming one of the most competitive in football.
Three of the four teams in the division finished greater than .500 while the Rams finished a respectable 7-9.
Two of the top teams in the division finished the season as the top teams in the NFC and one of those teams proved they were the best team in the NFL, winning Super Bowl XLVIII.
With 2014 now a little more than two months away, the Seahawks biggest challenge of the season won’t be handling the publicity of coming off a Super Bowl championship or being the hunted rather than the hunter in the league.
It will be making out of its own division relatively unscathed.
Last year, the Seahawks finished 4-2 in games against their NFC West opponents, but that record doesn’t mean it was an easy stretch of games.
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Seattle truly only dominated two of those games, their first against the 49ers and their last against the Rams.
In Week 7 against the Cardinals, they out-rushed Arizona by more than 100 yards, but played a pretty even game if you take away that aspect. The Cardinals put up a fight and alluded to what they would do two months later at CenturyLink Field.
In Week 8, Seattle needed a last-second goal-line stand to beat the Rams in St. Louis, and they couldn’t beat their division rival 49ers on the road to clinch the division in Week 14.
Two weeks after that loss in Seattle’s last game at Candlestick Park, Arizona shocked the Seahawks and snapped their 14-game home-winning streak.
Now the Seahawks have a giant bullseye on their back. All four teams upgraded significantly over the offseason and had great drafts, so it is very possible that all four teams could finish with a winning record (though I’m expecting the Rams to be 8-8 this year).
The NFC West used to be a laughable division but now it’s the NFL’s powerhouse.
The Seahawks have the power in their hands. If they can win at least four out of their six games against West opponents, they should have a clear-cut path back to the Super Bowl.
Anything less than four wins and the Seahawks probably won’t win the division crown.
They should though. Seattle is out to compete and they know how to beat every team in the division.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the 49ers and Seahawks played a third time in January with the NFC title on the line, just as they did last year.
The winner will play in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz., the home of another NFC West opponent.
The stars are aligned. This is the best division in football and because of that, playing six games against the West will be Seattle’s biggest challenge in 2014.