Just a few short years ago, the NFC West was the laughing stock of the NFL. These teams were so bad, that in 2011, Seattle represented the division in the playoffs with a 7-9 losing record. But in 2012, things changed as both the Seahawks and the 49er’s made playoff appearances. And in 2013, these teams, along with St. Louis and Arizona are all expected to do well throughout the entire season. Here’s a look at how the teams have done thus far in the preseason and what we can expect to see this upcoming year.
In 2012, Jim Harbaugh showed up in San Francisco, ready to restore the name of the San Francisco 49ers. What was once one of the most recognized teams in the NFL, they have faltered for the last decade or so. However in just one short year, Harbaugh had the 49ers back in the playoffs came up short only to the Ravens. Well the 49ers are still on a lot of peoples watch list for this upcoming season and are expected to return to the playoffs. Last season, the emergence of Colin Kapernick was one of the most talked about storylines in the NFL. And coming into this season, analyst like Ron Jaworski are saying that Kapernick has the opportunity to be one of the greatest to ever play the game. That may be getting a bit ahead of schedule for someone who hasn’t even started an entire season just yet. However, Kapernick certainly has demonstrated that he has the potential to live up to the hype. This offseason, the 49ers have gone a modest 3-1, winning their last three games, after losing the first preseason game in a barnburner against Denver. Keep an eye on the 49ers all year long, as they make another run at the Super Bowl, and are sure to entertain all year long.
Surprisingly, for a division that sent only one team to the playoffs in 2011, the NFC West sent two teams in 2012. The Seattle Seahawks also made the playoffs alongside the 49ers. To say that both of these teams are among the most improved from 2011 to 2012 is a bit of an understatement, as both came out of nowhere to be where they are now. A lot of the success for the Seahawks was due to the play of Russell Wilson, the quarterback that everyone says reminds them of Drew Brees, but also the quarterback that slipped to round 3 of the 2012 NFL Draft, before being picked up by Seattle. Fast forward one season and Russell took the starting job in Seattle from Matt Flynn, went on to win the PEPSI Rookie of the Year award and was considered to be in the conversation with Andrew Luck and RG III for future superstars in the NFL. Oh yeah, he also led Seattle into the playoffs as a Wild Card team and was even able to upset RG III and his Washington Redskins. The Seahawks hope to continue the success that they have garnered thus far in the preseason. The Seahawks are only one of two teams (RG III and Redskins being the other) to go undefeated in this preseason. What might be the most impressive about their wins have been that they’ve all been blowouts where both the offense and the defense showed up to play. It’s going to be fun watching the 49ers and the Seahawks fight it out all season long.
Surprisingly, the Arizona Cardinals have also had a successful preseason, culminating a record of 3-1. Last year, the Cardinals were one of the lowliest teams in the NFL, winning only 5 games over the course of the season. All of the struggles lead to the departure of starting quarterback Kevin Kolb, and the arrival of former Heisman winner, Carson Palmer. Arizona’s wins have come against Green Bay, Dallas and Denver, and none of those teams are a cakewalk by any means. However, whether or not the Cardinals success can be fully transformed is yet to be seen. We will have to wait to see if Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald are on the same page; but if they are, it could be a deadly combo that adds to the firepower of the NFC West.
Among the impressive records that these other teams have touted, the St. Louis Rams didn’t experience as much success this preseason. With a 1-3 record, St. Louis fans are hoping that this isn’t a sign of things to come for the upcoming season. And if you ask head coach Jeff Fisher, there is nothing to worry about. St. Louis is still led on the field by Sam Bradford, but one has to assume that the clock is ticking for him to achieve success in St. Louis. Bradford’s time in St. Louis has included a handful of injuries, and certainly not the success that Ram’s fans were hoping for when the Rams used the number one overall pick to draft him. However, there seems to be a shinning light with this years Rams team. Fisher has been building a new culture around the team and it’s looking to finally begin paying off. The Rams are a team to keep your eye on this year, and look to see if they can keep up with the other talented teams in the division.
Considering the NFC West was one of the worst divisions in the league a few years ago, things have quickly changed. This season could be the emergence of this division and every single team could be vying for a playoff spot as the season gets into its final months before the playoffs. Even more so, this years Super Bowl winner may very well come from the NFC West.