An amazing statistic proves just how impressive the NFC West has been this season. No, it’s not just the division’s collective overall record of 40-20 right now for a .667 winning percentage – best in the NFL. In order to truly appreciate the division’s superiority one must look a bit deeper into that record and see just how well the NFC West has fared against squads from other divisions.
Since each team in the division has to face one another twice a year, a group of teams this strong is bound to beat up on each other quite regularly. That has certainly weighed down the division’s winning percentage, but with Week 17 consisting of divisional contests it makes it much easier to evaluate the division as a whole. In all games against non-division opponents, the NFC West compiled a ridiculous 30-10 record.
To put that number into context, that final mark is the best record ever since the league realigned in 2002 when expansion took the total number of teams to 32. It actually ties another division that had head coach Jeff Fisher in it when the AFC South went 30-10 in 2007 with the current Rams coach leading the Tennessee Titans back then. That division actually had the Houston Texans finish in the rear with a very solid 8-8 record which is what the Rams are shooting for this weekend when they visit Seattle.
They may have fallen back to the basement of the division in terms of finishing position, but the St. Louis Rams have actually taken a big step forward this season. Without their starting quarterback and with numerous injuries along the offensive line, this team still managed to piece together a very respectable record in what is clearly one of the toughest divisions in league history. Coach Fisher offered his thoughts on the Rams’ progress as he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
“We’re closing the gap and I hope we’ll be able to catch the other teams. I think one of the things that you probably would discover is how teams struggle after they’ve played teams in our division the next week because they’re such physical ballgames.”
That’s a very fair point. With the level of competition ratcheted up combined with the physical nature of the games within the NFC West, teams are often times left sluggish in weeks following a divisional battle. After compiling an impressive 4-1-1 mark in the division last season, the Rams are staring at a 1-4 record heading into their final divisional tilt of the season with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Finishing the year with not only a divisional win but a three-game winning streak and a .500 record for the first time since 2006 would do wonders for these young Rams to springboard into 2014. Given the level of competition in the NFC West, it seems clear that a .500 record despite finishing in the division’s basement is a real step forward for this team.