NFC West: NFLs Best Defensive Division?
Just look at he numbers. The Seattle Seahawks currently rank 2nd in rushing yards allowed per game, the San Francisco 49ers are 6th, the St. Louis Rams are 19th and the Arizona Cardinals are 16th. Numbers don’t tell the whole story though. These teams rely on their defense to get them through every game. Last night, the Rams sacked Kevin Kolb nine times. Seattle sacked Aaron Rodgers in week three 8 times in the first half and Arizona and San Francisco have been getting after quarterbacks all year long.
The NFC West opponents average 92.25 yards on ground and 215 yards through the air. Offenses use to love playing the Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals, and 49ers. They came into the games expecting to gain 400 yards without breaking a sweat, but now they fear the NFC West. Nobody wants to go against the Seahawks and 49ers bruising front seven and the Cardinals and Rams can hit you right in the face when they play their best as well.
Just look at the starting defensive ends for the each team and it only scratches the surface of the talent and depth on each team.
Seahawks: Chris Clemons 5 sacks, Red Bryant6’4″ 323 lbs (defenses avoid running to his side of the field at all costs)
49ers: Ray Mcdonald 10 tackles .5 sack(s), Justin Smith 14 tackles
Rams: Chris Long 3 sacks, Robert Quinn 6 sacks
Cardinals: Darnell Dockett 10 tackles, Calais Campbell 6’8″ 300 lbs 2 sacks ( Week 2 NFC defensive player of the week)
With exception to the Rams and Cardinals those numbers are just from the first four weeks of the season. As a whole the teams have a record of 12-6. Don’t forget that the Cardinals offense needs fixing all around. The Seahawks start rookie QB Russell Wilson and rely entirely on Marshawn Lynch. The Rams QB Sam Bradford looks like he is still having growing pains and the 49ers Alex Smith is finally coming into his own after being the number 1 pick out of college.
All off this without even mentioning all the players that went the Pro Bowl on each team for defense with exception of the Rams.
Seahawks: Earl Thomas, Kam Chanceller, Brandon Browner
Cardinals: Patrick Peterson (speacial teams), Adrian Wilson
49ers: Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Carlos Rodgers, Dashon Goldson
There are not that many people that could have expected the NFC west to be this good. They have lost some bad games, but if you take away losses in their own division as a whole the NFC West has only lost to the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit lions, and Chicago Bears. The Bears and Vikings are both 3-1 heading into week 5 and the Lions just barely squeezed out a victory against the Rams. The Lions are the only questionable team that beat the NFC west at 1-3, but there is still a lot of talent on that team.
These teams have built their defenses over the past few years and finally it’s their time to shine. In my opinion the NFC West does not only have the best defenses in the league, but it is quite simply the best division. All four teams have had their offensive struggles, but as the old saying goes “defense wins championships”.