Although it's recently sent two teams to the Super Bowl, the NFC West has long been considered the worst division in the NFL. Since the divisions aligned in 2002, the West hasn't featured a primary rivalry until the Cardinals opened University of Phoenix Stadium in 2006 against the 49ers. Since that year, the Cardinals and 49ers have continued to open against each other, and since '07, they've both matched up on Monday Night Football. The NFL has clearly made an attempt to stir up a competitive rivalry in the league's "worst" division, and at this point, it's worked.
The 49ers currently lead the series with a 9-7 record since 2002, and as most 49er fans will tell you, they swept the Cardinals last year. The 49ers have the slight edge, with an average score of 24.3 to 22.5, meaning the series has been decided by a slight 1.8 point-difference in nine seasons. When these teams match up, the game play is intense, and as you can see, they usually go down to the wire. The "smack talk" between the two teams has grown immensely, with the most recent Twitter-feud between the Cardinals' Darnell Dockett and the 49ers' Vernon Davis just last week.
Is there a general hate between the two fan bases? I'd say no. The fire hasn't fueled to that extent...yet. There is however, a hate for each other's team. The NFL has succeeded in creating a fiery rivalry that most fans look forward to watching every year. There's a lot to look forward to for the 2010 season. The Cardinals have already been written off and the 49ers have been given the "favorite" label to win the NFC West. The assessment may not be fair, but it is justified. The 49ers emerged as a very tough team last season, while the Cardinals lost loads of talent this offseason. However, the Cardinals have won the division the last two seasons and successfully replaced much of the talent they lost. The 49ers did had a very successful draft and their hopes are high for 2010. Next season, the teams won't open against each other as they've done in years past, but they will face each other on Monday Night Football and will face off in the season finale. Both teams will be vying for the NFC West crown, and winning both match ups will be imperative for either team.
Who gets the sweep this year? Will the Cardinals get revenge, or will the 49ers extend their streak to two years? 49ers fans from www.ninersnation.com have been invited and are part of this discussion. Use this thread to discuss the rivalry that has developed between these two teams and post who you think will win the division next season.