by Tuesday Morning Tailback
It is kind of impressive how solid the western divisions of both conferences have been this season. Long overlooked due to a east-coast-infested media bias, teams from the west have grown to dominate the National Football League, with both divisions rapidly rising from mediocrity in just a few short years.
If you put aside the Oakland Raiders dismal 4-12 season, the rest of the AFC West was 33-15 during the regular season and the division was the only one to send three teams to the playoffs – the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, and San Diego Chargers. Although only Denver remains in the final four, there is no doubt that Kansas City and San Diego played well in their playoff games. Another way to measure the strength of this division is look what these top three teams did against the teams in the NFC East, 11 wins and only one loss, and that loss was San Diego’s overtime loss in Washington when then couldn’t punch in the winning touchdown despite four attempts from the one yard line. The Broncos, who broke just about every passing and scoring record imaginable this year, will host the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship next Sunday.
The NFC West gave us both participants in this week’s NFC Championship when the San Francisco 49ers travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks. This matchup is really no surprise, coming into the season, as the Seahawks were a few seconds from solidifying this exact matchup in the NFC Championship last season, although that game would have been played in San Francisco. The divisions other two teams also looked promising in 2013. At 10-6, the Arizona Cardinals had the best record of any team not making the playoffs (in fact, they had a better record than 2 playoff participants). The St. Louis Rams finished last at 7-9, but played very impressive at points and were named the non-playoff team with the brightest future in our 13 Things about 2013, article a few weeks back.
While it sure looks like the class of the NFL has headed to the old frontier, it may be a bit premature to declare it that region the victor right now. After all, we haven’t had a Super Bowl champion from west of the Mississippi this century (albeit New Orleans does border the river). Heading into the championship game round, only New England can keep that streak alive, but if Denver wins at home we will be assured the first all-west Super Bowl in 19 years. (And, by the way, Tuesday Morning Tailback predicted a San Francisco vs. Denver Super Bowl at the beginning of this year.)
Tuesday Morning Tailback is a weekly article during football season which take a critical look at the NFL. We do this from the base belief that NFL football is the greatest game in the history of mankind, but some recent policies and the overall direction of the league has chipped away at this greatness. Our primary goal is to spark debate on these subjects, so please leave your own opinion on this article in the comment box below.