NFC West – Not as Bad as You Think

The NFC West, usually, doesn’t get too many compliments. Besides having a dominant Seattle Seahawks team in the mid 00’s and the 49ers’ rise in the 2011 season under head Jim Harbaugh. Nonetheless, despite not having a Super Bowl winning team since January 2000, it is the only division to have a team in the playoffs divisional round each season since the realignment.

In 2002 the Houston Texans became the 32nd franchise in the NFL, and the league was split into eight divisions between two conferences. Since then two NFC West teams have made the Super Bowl – The Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks, both teams losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Some years have a representative from each division in each conference, like 2012. It also happened in 2006, 2007 and 2010. The NFC North have missed out twice, and so has the AFC North and AFC West. The NFC East, usually one of the stronger division in the NFL didn’t have any team in the divisional playoffs last year.

Does this mean anything? Probably not. Winning the NFC West comes with its perks, and just being in that division means an easier schedule. The Seattle Seahawks won the division in 2010 with a 7-9 record, but managed to beat the Super Bowl Champions New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round. The division has been won by teams with less than 10 wins four times since 2004. It has happened only once in the NFC East (this season), once in the NFC South (Tampa in 2007) and never in the NFC North.

In the AFC East, the Jets won the division with a 9-7 in 2002. In the AFC West, two 8-8 teams have won the division, including the Denver Broncos this year. It hasn’t happened in the North and South divisions.