Why the NFC West Is Still the Best Division in the NFL

Matthew Melton@mcmelton314Contributor IIIOctober 16, 2012

Image via stlouisrams.com
Image via stlouisrams.com

This time last month, I proffered the insane idea that the NFC West—long the doormat of NFL divisions—was the best in professional football.

I used some basic statistical benchmarks, mixed in with a few bold statements, to make my argument.

Now that the NFL season is six weeks old, we have more evidence to shift through. It's only making the case even stronger: The NFC West is still the best division in the NFL.

Here are four reasons why.


1. Most Wins

Just as after Week 2, the NFC West still has the best combined record in the NFL. The four NFC West teams have combined to go 15-9 (.625 winning percentage).

The closest any division is to the NFC West are the 13 wins (against nine losses) the NFC North teams have.

You can blame the presence of the bye weeks all you want, but the NFC West leads all NFL divisions in winning percentage.


2. Point Differential

As it has been at the end of every week this NFL season, the NFC West is near the top of the NFL in aggregate point differential. At this point in the season, the four teams have combined for plus-87 points, second only to the NFC North (two less games played).

The Rams have the lowest point differential in the division (negative-one), but that's where they were after Week 2. That's still better than almost half of the teams in the NFL.

The NFC West teams have combined to allow 395 points over 24 games (16.5 average points allowed).

The NFC West is all over the list of the best defenses in the NFL in terms of points allowed. In fact, all four teams can be found within the NFL's top five.

And remember, none of the NFC West teams have been able to benefit from the luxuries of a bye week. That's pretty amazing.


3. Schedule

The NFC West teams have more than held their own against teams outside of their own division. They are 12-6 in inter-divisional games.

That's also the best of the eight NFL divisions.

Other "powerhouse" divisions, such as the NFC East, are a combined 10-9 against the rest of the NFL. The NFC North is a respectable, but still slightly inferior, 11-7.  

The NFC South, even with the undefeated Atlanta Falcons and the always sexy Cam Newton-led Panthers and Drew Brees' Saints, are a paltry 7-8 outside the division.

NFC West teams have beaten the likes of New England, Carolina, Green Bay, Washington and the New York Jets. In some cases (Patriots, Packers), NFC West teams have won multiple games.

Coming into this season, three of the NFC West's four teams (Seattle, Arizona and St. Louis) had one of the 11 most difficult schedules on the NFL's calendar.

So it's not like the division has been piling up wins against cupcake opponents.


4. Best Overall Balance

Admittedly, one probably has to list the Falcons, Giants, Bears, Ravens and Texans in their power rankings before getting to an NFC West team.

But there is no division in the NFL with as much top-to-bottom balance as the NFC West. Three of the four teams have winning records. No other division can say that.

In fact, the NFC West has more teams above .500 than the entire AFC does, as a conference.

The NFC West's "worst" team, by record, the St. Louis Rams, have as many or more wins than the Packers, Eagles, Cowboys, Saints, Steelers, Broncos, Chargers and Panthers.

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone coming into this season predicting that.

Among this weekend's games, the Rams host Green Bay and the Cardinals will travel to Minnesota. Both teams will be heavy underdogs.

What will we be saying about the NFC West come Monday morning?