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From NFC Worst to NFC West

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How good is the NFC West right now? Right now the entire division is at .500 or better. Most people think the San Francisco 49ers are the best team in the NFC, but they're not even the top team in the division as of Friday. The Arizona Cardinals faced reality with a 17-3 loss to St. Louis, but their 4-1 record is still a surprise to most (including this native of Arizona).

In the bottom half, the Rams sport a 3-2 record and are now over .500 for the first time in the Sam Bradford era. The Seahawks sit at 2-2, but with a match up at Carolina this weekend, they have a good shot at putting the entire division above .500.

This season, the NFC West has been doing it with defense. At the end of Week 4, The Seahawks and 49ers both placed in the top 3 in total defense, allowing just under 300 yards a game. Arizona, Seattle, and San Francisco place in the top 4 in fewest points allowed per game, with the 49ers at 16.2, the Cardinals at 15.2, and the Seahawks at 14.5. All of a sudden the NFC West has become a division known for defense, and the league is taking notice.

Let's not forget, just a couple years back, the NFC West was a laughing stock. At 7-9 the Seattle Seahawks became the first team with a losing record to ever win a division. A couple years earlier, the Arizona Cardinals went 8-8 and somehow managed to make the Super Bowl.

This division for the longest time has been a joke, but four full weeks into the 2012 season it looks like they've turned a page. They arguably have three of the best teams in the conference just in one division (yes, I'm being generous to the Seahawks, but they've shown glimpses of greatness). Legitimately, two playoff teams will come out of the west, with the 49ers looking like a lock for the Super Bowl.

Things have certainly changed over the last few years. So it begs the question who's taking over for the NFC West as the worst division in football? I think it's safe to say the AFC South is taking over that title with the AFC West a close second. Yes, the Texans look like the best team in the conference and possibly the whole league, but after that the division is a train wreck. You have three teams still searching for an identity. The Colts think they've found it with Andrew Luck, but expecting that team to have more than 4 wins this year might be a stretch. Maurice Jones-Drew is still a Jaguar, but that may be the only thing this team has to hang its hat on. Jake Locker looks like he could be the real deal with Tennessee, but as a team the Titans look like one of the worst in football. So all three of those teams sit at 1-3 four weeks into the season, and I don't think either team gets more than five wins this year, and it's that high only because they have to play each other in the division!

Whether I'm right or not about the AFC South remains to be seen, but as a West Coast sports fan, it's just nice to see the NFC West out of the cellar for the NFL. It's been a long time coming.

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