All season long, NFL experts and analyst jumped on the bandwagon that the NFC West was the worst division in the National Football League.
Chants went up that the entire division was a complete mess, and they were part right. 49ers quarterback Alex Smith finished with the best QB rating in the division at 82.1. Rookie sensation Sam Bradford was No. 1 in the division and No. 18 overall in the league with 18 touchdown passes.
No team in the NFC West had a winning record. No team in the NFC West scored more points than they allowed. No NFC West team had a winning record on the road.
No NFC West team had a shot in the playoffs.
Until Saturday afternoon, when the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks defeated the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints, 41-36, a game in which Matt Hasselbeck threw for four touchdown passes against a defense that only allowed 13 all season long!
The same Seattle Seahawks, who were 10.5-point underdogs, outscored the Saints 27-10 in the second and third quarter, and held the Saints to only 77 yards rushing on 22 carries.
It's amazing that the NFC West gets absolutely no respect from NFL experts, fans and analysts. Did they forget that it was only two years ago that the Arizona Cardinals represented the NFC in the Super Bowl, and if it were not for a James Harrison interception return for a touchdown before halftime, that the Cardinals had all but outplayed the Pittsburgh Steelers?
Since the turn of the millennium, the NFC West has represented the NFC the most times on Super Bowl Sunday—four (Rams twice, Cardinals and Seahawks).
So here's a toast to the beleaguered NFC West, the equivalent of the Utah and TCUs in the college football world. To the division that fans, writers and critics all but forget to talk about in favor of the NFC East or the hard-hitting AFC North with Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
The NFC West proved itself again on Saturday afternoon. They proved that stats mean nothing, and for that matter, that a losing record is only important in the regular season because come the postseason, everybody starts at 0-0.
NFC West, I salute you.