October 4, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (94) celebrates after sacking Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis defeated Arizona 17-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
This was a crazy weekend in the NFC West, with 3 out of 4 teams in the division losing for the first time all season. The San Francisco 49ers were dominated at home by the New York Giants, the Cardinals lost in overtime to the Buffalo Bills, and the St. Louis Rams handed the game to the Miami Dolphins on 3 missed field goals. The Seattle Seahawks were the cream of the NFC West on Sunday, rallying behind their rookie quarterback and pulling out the come from behind victory over the New England Patriots.
Regardless of this weekend’s performances, the new-look West is easily the most competitive in the league. To put the dominance in perspective, the NFC West alone has more teams with winning records than the entire AFC Conference. The teams are dominating at home, and are 12-6 outside of the division. Of those six losses, only two have come from a team with a record below .500, which came this weekend in the Arizona loss to the Bills in OT and in Week 1 when the St. Louis Rams lost to the Detroit Lions on a last second touchdown pass. The rest of the loss were to the Minnesota Vikings (4-2), Miami Dolphins (3-3), Chicago Bears (4-1), and New York Giants (4-2).
The NFC West may not be the most potent offensively, which was displayed this weekend. However, they are winning games with a dominating, smothering defenses that are limiting scores and forcing turnovers. Just how dominating? Here is a breakdown of the major defensive rankings for the entire NFC West, including record…
|San Francisco 49ers||Seattle Seahawks||Arizona Cardinals||St. Louis Rams||Average Rank|
|Total Yards||1655 (5th)||1768 (6th)||1976 (14th)||1869 (9th)||8th|
|Passing Yards||1099 (4th)||1348 (17th)||1296 (12th)||1264 (9th)||10th|
|Passing Touchdowns||6 (T-7th)||5 (T-4th)||5 (T-4th)||4 (T-1st)||4th|
|Interception||4 (T-21st)||5 (T-19th)||6 (T-15th)||8 (T-8th)||15th|
|Sacks||9 (T-26th)||17 (T-4th)||19 (3rd)||17 (T-4th)||9th|
|Opposing QB Rating||77.8 (9th)||74.1 (6th)||70.7 (3rd)||72.8 (5th)||5th|
|Rushing Yards||556 (12th)||420 (3rd)||680 (20th)||605 (15th)||12th|
|Rushing Touchdowns||2 (T-4th)||2 (T-4th)||3 (T-9th)||6 (23rd)||10th|
|Points||94 (3rd)||93 (2nd)||97 (4th)||111 (6th)||3th|
Each team in the NFC West is in the Top 10 in Passing Touchdowns Allowed, Opposing Quarterback Rating, and Points Allowed. If you average out the ranking from all four teams, the NFC West is in the Top 10 in 7 major categories: Total Yards, Passing Yards, Passing Touchdowns, Sacks, Opposing Team Quarterback Rating, Rushing Touchdowns, and Total Points Allowed.
The bottom line is, no team in the NFL should want to play the NFC West on any given Sunday, especially if the they are on the road. Aside from, potentially, the Arizona Cardinals, each team seems to be getting progressively better on defense as the season continued, which could be scary heading down the long stretch of the season.
I hate the Seahawks, Cardinals, and 49ers as much as any St. Louis Rams fan, but kudos to our division as a whole for picking ourselves up and forcing ourselves into the conversation for the best division in the NFL.