In a newsworthy event, the NFC West is guaranteed two wins today. Of course, that’s because today’s late afternoon games include two divisional matchups in the non-rough and non-tumbly NFC West. Arizona’s Cinderella post-season run two years ago has somewhat masked just how bad the division has been since Seattle went 13-3 back in 2005.
The division hasn’t had a winning record against other teams since 2003 (when they went 21-19), and over the last 4 years, have gone a dismal 53-107 in non-divisional matchups. Of the 16 teams over the last four seasons, only the 2007 Seahawks (+1.8) and 2009 San Francisco 49ers (+0.1) have rated as above average using the simple rating system, which uses point differential adjusted for schedule. The division presents an argument for why division winners should not automatically be rewarded with a home game when other divisions are much tougher.
This year, San Francisco looks like the favorite based on their finish, and the Cardinals’ decline. San Fran will rely on a defense anchored by the outstanding Patrick Willis, a young line it hopes can open holes for Gore, and a much improved skill group that should give Alex Smith no excuses. Arizona has so many lost key contributors from the last two years, and they were not a powerhouse before. Saint Louis has a long way to go. They will be better, but that may mean 4-5 wins. Seattle with Carroll is the wildcard, but Matt Hasselbeck will have to find the fountain of youth, and the defense will have to improve significantly from 2009. At the outset, it doesn’t look like the division will be different from other recent years, where a winning record is a ticket to a home game.
Of course, if you don’t want to watch an NFC West matchup, you can always check out Kolb’s succession of McNabb in Philadelphia, and see if Jermichael Finley is going to live up to the escalating pre-season hype that has him projected for 150 catches, 1,800 yards, and 30 td’s.
[Image via Getty]