NFC West: No Longer the 'Weakest Division in Football'
With their dominance in the NFL last year, the San Francisco 49ers were considered the only formidable team in the NFC West as they made their playoff run. This was the first sign of life in a division deemed the "weakest in football" despite the fact these teams made it to the Super Bowl three times in the previous decade.
Fast forward to the 2012 season and it seems the NFC West is no longer a puny division full of one strong team and three who struggle. A game against one of these four teams is no longer an automatic win scratched off the calendar by opponents. This was seen in Week 2 as every single team in the division came away with a win.
For the first time in a long time, the NFC West is once again re-emerging as it begins to evolve into one of the powerhouses of the National Football League.
Arizona Cardinals with the Upset
For the first time in his career, Tom Brady has lost his home opener in Foxborough.
The shocking loss came to a team nobody thought had a chance: the Arizona Cardinals.
Coming into the game, Kevin Kolb was the starter after John Skelton was injured in Week 1. The main storyline of this one, however, was the Cardinals defense and how they halted the New England offense. The secondary was superb as they jumped routes and locked down the receivers.
Brady couldn't get things going and Kolb threw for one touchdown as he ran for another. A late holding call hurt the Patriots' chances at the win but this only came after a costly fumble by the Cardinals' Ryan Williams.
Either way, a 20-18 win on the road against the New England Patriots gives Arizona a big confidence boost and has people questioning the team's potential.
Seattle Seahawks Pound Cowboys
Heading into this game, it seemed to be a no-brainer to most analysts. The Dallas Cowboys would easily defeat the Seattle Seahawks just like they did in Week 1 against the reigning Super Bowl champion Giants.
Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson had a different idea, however, as he and the always tough at home Seahawks took it to the Cowboys. Special teams kicked off the game in the right way as a fumble on the opening kickoff led to a field goal and a blocked punt for a touchdown had Seattle up 10 points very early in the game.
But the beating continued. Marshawn Lynch pounded the ball inside and finished the game with 122 yards and a touchdown. Russell Wilson, only throwing for 151 yards, completed 15 of 20 passes in the 27-7 win in which Dallas couldn't do much. The only thing they had going for them was a drive in the second quarter in which they scored on a pass to Miles Austin.
All in all, the Seahawks dominated in every category of this game as the offense, defense and special teams gave the Cowboys no chance to win.
St. Louis Rams Fight Adversity
The only thing heard heading into this game was the play in the previous week by Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. He was primed to once again light up the home team in a dome and lead his team to victory.
St. Louis had other plans in this one, beating Washington much more than the 31-28 score indicates. Replacement officials absolutely destroyed the Rams in this one, ruining multiple scores and drives with awful calls on both offense and defense.
Still, though, the Rams fought the Redskins and Zebras to pull this one out. Sam Bradford shined as he threw for over 300 yards as Danny Amendola hauled in 15 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown. The defense was relentless for St. Louis as they held the Washington offense at bay. Referees and the questionable calls they handed out helped to keep the Redskins offense on the field over and over again.
A blown coverage touchdown and two easy runs by RGIII were all the defense gave up. Coming from behind while literally not having any calls go their way until the final seconds of the game show the Rams are a strong football team.
San Francisco 49ers Handle Their Business
Easily the favorite contender in the NFC West, the 49ers once again dished out punishment as they defeated the Detroit Lions on Sunday Night Football with a 27-19 win.
One offensive touchdown was all the Lions could manage against the strong 49ers defense as Detroit's kicker hit four through the uprights.
Known for their defense as of late, San Francisco's offense got the ball rolling as Frank Gore led the way, punishing defenders on his way to 89 yards and a touchdown. Alex Smith, being molded by coach Jim Harbaugh, seems to be evolving each game. He picked apart the Lions defense completing 20 of 31 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
Four games in Week 2 and four impressive wins by each team in the NFC West. All young and on the rise, these four teams will make many more statements this season, and will lose the title of "weakest division in football" on the way.