When you think of the NFC West, you think of the San Francisco 49ers, the Arizona Cardinals, the Seattle Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams—teams that have combined to make the NFC West the laughingstock of the NFL in 2012.
Parity is a phrase folks like to throw around when describing the NFL, but that certainly doesn't exist in the NFC West. While some divisions can send three teams to the postseason like the AFC North did in 2011, some divisions can end up with only one team above .500 when seasons conclude.
That division will more than likely be the NFC West in 2012.
The NFC is off to a horrendous start, and there's no evidence to suggest that things will turn around for the division. Let's break down why the division is so bad and whether or not any other division comes close to its mediocrity.
Starting at the very bottom, the Rams are once again one of the worst teams in the entire NFL. Head coach Jeff Fisher has a serious task in front of him in rebuilding the franchise. Currently, the Rams sit at 3-5 and have managed a minus-49 net points ratio.
There is some talent on their roster, especially on defense, but until Fisher can manage to find massive upgrades in the trenches, the Rams will continue to hold down the NFC West.
Things get a bit blurry after the Rams considering both the Seahawks and Cardinals are hanging around at a mediocre 4-4. The Cardinals have a ridiculous amount of talent on the roster, but feature a record-breaking offensive line (in a bad way) and no viable NFL quarterbacks on the roster.
Meanwhile, the mediocre 'Hawks are led by a rookie quarterback taken in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft. Russell Wilson has not been horrible by any means, but he isn't the answer this year. Pair a mediocre defense with an offense that matches that in every way, and you get another .500 or worse team residing in the NFC West.
The saving grace for the division is the 49ers, a team that made it as far as the NFC Championship a year ago. San Francisco is once again one of the best teams in the NFL thanks to the league's best defense and a balanced offense attack.
Were it not for the Red and Gold, the NFC West could be the worst division in NFL history.
It goes without saying that the NFC West cannot be the only bad division in the NFL. There are a few divisions out there that have miserable seasons to date as well.
For example, the NFC East isn't exactly the best division in the world, with the Dallas Cowboys (3-4), Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) and the Washington Redskins (3-5) all under .500 and looking up to the New York Giants (6-2).
Similarly, the AFC West is a complete disaster, with the San Diego Chargers (3-4), Oakland Raiders (3-4) and Kansas City Chiefs (1-6) just barley behind the division-leading Denver Broncos (4-3).
Divisions such as the NFC South are struggling despite having an undefeated team in the Atlanta Falcons at 7-0, but it's a safe bet the New Orleans Saints will end up making things interesting behind the arms of quarterback Drew Brees.
What sets the NFC West apart from these struggling divisions is simple—the NFC West doesn't have the talent to bounce back. The Rams and Cardinals simply have too many issues and the Seahawks are a few years out from being taken seriously.
NFC West Wears the Crown
It's strange that an eventual Super Bowl champion may emerge from the NFC West in 2012, but that doesn't change the fact that behind the San Francisco 49ers there are three teams that simply don't have what it takes to compete at a high level.
All hope is not lost for the NFC West, but with three teams essentially rebuilding, it was expected that 2012 would more than likely be a down year for the division.
The NFC West will end up being dominated by the 49ers and the rest of the NFL. It's far and away the worst division in the NFL in 2012, and that won't change as the season wears on to its conclusion.