This was first brought up on the Seattle page, Field Gulls, and the Arizona Cardinals Website. I have always wondered how the NFC West has been a weak division. With the exception of last year, we've always had teams go in with .500 or higher (obviously seeing as Seattle was the only team to enter the playoffs with a sub .500 record.) Hit the jump for some stats and my opinion as to why the NFC West is on the rise.
To start off we'll take a look at the NFC West Playoff Records since 2003, starting with the 49ers.
San Francisco 49er's: 2002 (10-6): W vs. #5 New York Giants, L at #2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in divisional round. 2011 (13-3): W vs. #3 New Orleans Saints, ?? vs. #4 New York Giants in NFC Championship Game Playoff Record: 2-1
Arizona Cardinals: 2008 (9-7): W vs. #5 Atlanta Falcons, W at #2 Carolina Panthers, W vs. #6 Philadelphia Eagles, L vs. #2 Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII 2009 (10-6): W vs. #5 Green Bay Packers, L at #1 New Orleans Saints in divisional round. Playoff Record: 4-2
Seattle Seahawks: 2003 (10-6): L at #4 Green Bay Packers in wild card round 2004 (9-7): L vs. #5 St. Louis Rams in wild card round 2005 (13-3): W vs. #6 Washington Redskins, W vs. #5 Carolina Panthers, L vs. #6 Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL 2006 (9-7): W vs. #5 Dallas Cowboys, L at #1 Chicago Bears in divisional round. 2007 (10-6): W vs. #6 Washington Redskins, L at #2 Green Bay Packers in divisional round 2010 (7-9): W vs. #5 New Orleans Saints, L at #2 Chicago Bears in divisional round.
Playoff Record: 5-6
Against the NFC East: 5-0
5-4 against the NFC South
1-4 against the NFC North
1-1 against the NFC West
0-2 against the AFC
Record Compared to other NFC Divisions:
NFC East: 15-17 (2 Superbowls, 1 Superbowl Win)
NFC South: 13-13 (3 Superbowls, 2 Superbowl Wins)
NFC North: 11-13 (2 Superbowls, 1 Superbowl Win)
NFC West: 12-11 (2 Superbowls, 0 Superbowl Wins)
Obviously we have the best playoff percentage but we lack the Super Bowls. If the Niners win this weekend, they'll have tied the NFC South for the most Superbowl teams in the last 10 years. The NFC West has won at least one game since the realignment in 2003, sadly the Super Bowl has eluded us, but luckily the Steelers aren't here to ruin things this time around.
We know that the NFC West is poor in the regular season, but when the playoffs come around, we always seem to come through.
The NFC West has certainly become a defensive division. The Cardinals and Seahawks rise from sub .500 records to contention for second place and a .500 record. The Niners have road their defense to the NFC Championship game, and Jeff Fisher and his defense first mentality, we can expect the Rams defense to turn into a force to reckon with. In an era of Offensive Fireworks, the West is turning into a "rough and tumble division".