Two years ago the Rams entered the final week of the season with the division title on the line.
The Rams were one victory away from getting back into the playoffs.
The current Rams roster is more talented than last year's and more talented even than the one that had a rookie Sam Bradford. There's a lot of reasons to think the Rams will be able to contend in football's weakest division.
The Cardinals came on strong in the second half of last season, especially defensively. However, they still have the worst quarterbacking situation in the NFC West. Their roster has bright spots but also has gaping holes along the offensive line, quarterback and other offensive positions filled by players not named Larry Fitzgerald.
Their defense can be good but is largely unremarkable.
The Seahawks are quietly building a good roster but will have an ongoing quarterback battle entering camp. Is Matt Flynn the answer? That will be one of the biggest questions of this season. The Seahawks defense is plenty good, but the team has issues on offense that could sink them.
The 49ers stunned the NFL in 2011, posting a 13-3 record and showcasing one of the league's best defenses.
The division runs through them. However, there is a history of regression to the mean with such teams. They faced the league's easiest schedule last year. Footballoutsiders.com posted their projections for the upcoming season and pegged the 49ers as a 7-9 candidate.
Would it really be that surprising if Sam Bradford made a lot of progress this year and the Rams won the division?
Not really. The Rams added some good pieces through the draft and free agency, and sometimes a good coaching change can make a big difference (e.g., the 2011 49ers).