NFC West has gone from hosting four teams that could barely win a game to providing two Super Bowl contenders in just three years.
When Seattle became the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a losing record (7-9), fans and rivals alike were left fuming at how such a poor team could win a division with a negative record, and be handed the right to make a run at the Super Bowl.
The 2010 season for the other NFC West teams saw St.Louis finish on 7-9. San Francisco on 6-10 and Arizona 5-11. Along with Seattle, the trio were dubbed the NFC Worst for a reason – they were terrible.
Compare that to this year: San Francisco finished 11-4-1, Seattle 11-5, St Louis 7-8-1 and Arizona 5-11.
There are significant improvements within this division for it to become a powerhouse within the league. The main reason for this is simple – upgrades at the coaching position.
Since 2010, each team has changed their head coach, with Arizona making the switch this off-season, with their potential improvement still a case of wait and see.
San Francisco went from Mike Singletary to Jim Harbaugh, Seattle replaced Jim Mora with Pete Carroll and Steve Spagnuolo was given the boot for Jeff Fisher at St Louis.
These three coaches are now turning their teams into perennial playoff outfits. While the 49ers and Seahawks are now firmly entrenched in that category, St Louis are only a season or so away from joining the list.
If Jeff Fisher can rebuild the offence into a team that can consistently score high points, then they will join Seattle and SanFran in the divisional winners’ hunt.
Arizona seem to be the anomaly of the division right now, but they are a team on the rise too. They have a championship standard defence, that would have been an upgrade on a team such as Green Bay, New England and New Orleans. The problem with the Cardinals is that they are dreadful on the offensive side of the ball.
If Bruce Arians can find a Quarterback good enough to lead this team to some close wins, then there is no doubt that the Cardinals are just two or three years away from becoming a genuine contender.
Teams rise and fall in the NFL, it is the nature of the league due to the draft and salary cap. When an entire division rises as a group is rare though, ad something the NFL should be prepared for in the coming years.