It isn’t too often I can write about both divisions I cover in just one article but after the first week in the 2021 NFL season, the AFC West and the NFC West divisions have one pretty impressive thing in common. Every team in both divisions won their first games. That makes me able to say, without question, the West is currently Best in the NFL.
Yeah yeah, it’s just the first week. And yeah yeah, none of them played a divisional opponent. But it wasn’t just the fact they won their games, but how they won them that made it impressive.
With the Pro Football Hall of Fame game and induction ceremonies over, we are just days away from week one of the 2021 NFL preseason. For what has seemed like an eternity, we have been waiting to get our eyes on new players, new coaches, and new schemes. Soon, that day will arrive.
Now for some teams, not much will change. Like both Super Bowl teams from last season, a few teams kept the majority of their players and all of their coaching staff. But the majority of teams have had some pretty big changes. Changes that could turn the fate of an entire franchise.
Now, we all know that preseason games aren’t real games. They are glorified practices that help the team decide who makes the final roster. But they also offer opportunities. Opportunities for unknown players to become know. For players far down the depth chart to move up. Opportunities for fans to find new fan favorites.
I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. And again, and again. The NFC West is the toughest division in football. This isn’t to disparage other divisions, as there are many fantastic divisions. However, over the last 7-10 years when you look at the records, how many times the winner of the NFC West has changed, how many times the division has represented the NFC in the Super Bowl… it’s hard to argue against my point.
In my article yesterday, I mentioned how the “rich got richer” when talking about the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFC West. For the NFC West, the entire division got even more competitive… which is saying a lot. Let’s take a look at how each team drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Miami Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier wasted little time shaking up the top 10 picks going into the 2021 NFL draft. The Dolphins held the third overall pick (which they acquired from the Houston Texans) followed by the 18th pick in the first round.
In a trade that rocked the football world, Grier traded the 3rd overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for their 12th pick, a 2021 third-round pick, and first-round picks in 2022 and 2013. Fans were left reeling at the master craftsmanship Grier was pulling off.
With just three games remaining in the season, there are already a handful of divisions that have been claimed. However with the NFC West, much like it has the last few seasons, it will come down to those last few games before a winner can be claimed. For the most competitive division in football, it could be a photo finish at the end.
We all know that there could be 3 NFC West teams that make the playoffs, but claiming the division could be a harder chore. With the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both sitting at 9-4, the Rams hold the first place spot due to their 23-16 win over the Seahawks in Week 10. These teams will meet again in week 15. This game could, and most likely will end up deciding the division.
In just a handful of plays, in a couple of different games, the waters got muddy in the NFC West. The Seattle Seahawks decided this week was the week to forget they were the best offense in the league, and the Los Angeles Rams took full advantage of it. The Arizona Cardinals, on a wing and a prayer (and the arm of their quarterback), threw a Hail Mary that was almost impossible to catch… until they did.
These two games created a log jam at the top of the NFC West. Three teams that are 6-3. We knew this was the best division in football, and this week proved it is going to be a fight to the end to win it.
Yes I realize we are going into week 6 so the first quarter of the season has already come and gone, but as I’ve always said, you don’t really know who a team will be until week 6, so I’m glad I waited.
The first few weeks in the NFC West was wild, but things are starting to settle in. We are starting to get a feel of what we can expect from these four teams, some good, some not so much. Is it still the best division in football? Well, it’s no NFC East (kidding) but I’d still have to say yes.
Let’s take a look at the NFC West and how they have fared after 5 weeks of the 2020 season.
I think the NFC West may be trying to give their fans heart attacks. All four games had major drama, including an almost huge comeback, a last-minute win, a surprise loss, and a team who won’t give up.
The Seattle Seahawks sit on top of the division, still undefeated, while the Los Angeles Rams, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Arizona Cardinals all sit with just one loss. In a season where one game can change everything, let’s take a look at what the week 3 games meant in the toughest division in football, and where they are heading.
“Living in the Wild Wild West. The Wild Wild NFC West!” Ok, that may not be the exact lyrics to the 1988 Escape Club hit (Oh yeah, I went there) but it fits this season’s NFC West quite perfectly.
The NFC West has gotten rave reviews through the first two weeks of the season and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. MVP level play from Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Insane defense from Aaron Donald and the rest of the Los Angeles Rams. Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray making that huge 2nd-year leap. And San Francisco doing what they often do…defying the odds in spite of mounting injuries.
We all knew there was a chance we would lose players early in the season. Most of us just thought it would be due to COVID-19, but it looks like we picked the wrong culprit.
There is only one phrase that can describe Week 2 in the NFL. Season altering injuries. In all of my years covering the NFL, I’ve never seen a week like Week 2. Injury after injury, all day long. Injuries that will undoubtedly change the course of the season for many teams.
Questions have arisen about the shortened offseason training programs. Others about the lack of preseason games. Everyone is looking for a reason that in one week the NFL lost so many stars. Whatever that reason may be, it won’t help get the players back. Let’s take a look at the carnage that was Week 2.