NFC West Becoming New 'Black and Blue' Division

Nick Kostora@@nickkostoraContributor IIISeptember 25, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks runs the ball in the second half against A.J. Hawk #50 and Tramon Williams #38 (obscured) of the Green Bay Packers at Qwest Field on September 24, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The NFC West, recently considered one of the worst divisions in football, is now one of the most competitive and hard-fought.

This division is assuming its own type of "Black and Blue" moniker, as each team is developing a hard nosed, run-oriented offense that plays at a high level.

Early in the season, the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams are all showcasing the type of balance and skill that says this division is not "San Francisco and everyone else."

The 49ers, however, did set the tone for the division last season, as they started the trend of going back to basics.

An offense based mainly out of the I-formation, with a fullback and heavy reliance on tight ends and play-action.

A defense that causes turnovers and refuses to give up easy points.

Now, the rest of the teams in this division are largely following suit, and to amazing results.

The Cardinals are the most shocking 3-0 team in recent memory, beating the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles in recent weeks.

Arizona does not need a prolific or high-flying offense to succeed; in fact, it ranks 29th and 27th in passing and rushing, respectively.

But the Cardinals find ways to grind out victories.

Seattle has a rookie quarterback who has yet to throw for 200 yards in a game, but it is 2-1 to start the year.

In St. Louis, the Jeff Fisher rebuilding effort looks like an easier project than first projected, as the Rams are competing in every game so far this season.

The NFC North used to be the so-called "Black and Blue" division but is now made up of pass-happy offenses in Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit.

The NFC West is doing things the old-fashioned way (except for a certain Seahawks Week 3 Hail Mary).

These teams run the football, play great defense and win close ballgames.

Players like Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch and Steven Jackson are the epitome of what "Black and Blue" should mean, and they are making sure the NFC West is on everyone's radar.

For those of you that questioned the validity of this division heading into the season, think again.