NFL: How the West Was Lost

Kenny SteinCorrespondent IDecember 5, 2008

Between 1997 and 2002 the NFL's Western Divisions (or what would become their Western divisions) sent five teams to the Super Bowl.

The Broncos and Rams ruled the late 90s and early 00s, while the Raiders offense dominated during the 2002 season.

But over the last five seasons, just one team out of the current eight in the AFC and NFC West has made the Super Bowl (the 2005 Seattle Seahawks) and as of right now it doesn't seem like that streak will stop in 2008.

The eight teams that comprise these two divisions are some of the worst in football. A strange but unavoidable coincidence.

Just at look at the following statistics (put together before last nights game between the Chargers and Raiders):

Combined record of every team that plays in the West divisions: 31-65, a .322 winning percentage

Number of team with winning records: 2. Cardinals and Broncos at 7-5.

Number of teams that would have a top 10 draft pick of the season ended today: 6. Yeah, the other six teams that play in the West make up more than half of the worst 10 teams in football.

Number of teams that have scored more points than they've allowed: 2. Cardinals and Chargers. No, not the Broncos. They've given up 27 more points than they've scored.

Number of teams with a winning road record: 1. Broncos. No other team is even at .500 on the road.

Non-Divisional Records

Arizona: 3-5

SF: 2-5

Seattle: 0-8

St. Louis: 2-7

Denver: 5-3

SD: 2-7

Oakland: 1-6

KC: 0-8

Combined record against those teams: 15 - 49 a .234 winning percentage

AFC Ranks out of 16 teams for total defense:

12 (Oak) 14 (SD) 15 (Den) 16 (KC)

NFC Ranks out of 16 for total defense:

7 (Ari) 13 (SF) 14 (STL) 15 (Sea)

NFC Offense: 13 (SF) 14 (Stl) 16 (Sea)

Besides Arizona, the other seven teams comprise seven of the worst 10 total defenses in the NFL and those are defenses that are facing the bad offenses of Oakland, St Louis, Kansas City, San Fransisco, and Seattle. Plus Arizona is the worst rushing team in the league.

Even the teams that sit atop the two divisions and with a stronghold on becoming division champions aren't much to write home about.

While the Cardinals boast one of the top passing games in the league, they are 3-5 against teams that don't play in the NFC West and are 3-4 on the road. Those 3 wins came at San Francisco, at St Louis, and at Seattle. Three teams with a combined eight wins.

In their other four road games they are giving up an astonishing 38.75 points per game including 56 to the Jets and 48 to the Eagles.

The Cardinals more than likely will not get a first round bye (they are two games behind the Panthers and Bucs for 2nd place) meaning they'll have to go on the road to either New York or Carolina/TB and will have a very good shot of being one win and done.

And that's only if they can win the first game which could come against Dallas or the TB/Car loser; all of whom have better records than the Cardinals.

In the AFC the Broncos sit atop the division at 7-5. But they've been outscored this season by 27 points.

They probably felt pretty good about themselves after a 3-0 start that saw them averaging 38 points per game. However, they didn't top 20 point again until Week 10 against Cleveland and have averaged just 19.7 points per game since Week Four.

The Broncos have won 3 of their past 4 games including impressive wins at Atlanta and at the New York Jets, but they also lost 31-10 against the Raiders at home. Showing they've still got work to do.

Additionally, many of the "stars" are starting to fade for these eight teams:

LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson and Steven Jackson all look like players who have lost a step.

Frank Gore is averaging a full yard per carry less than his breakout season of two years ago.

Denver is no longer churning out pro-bowl running backs, the Raiders can't even get a first down, and the Seahawks have a full running back by committee going and haven't had a star skill position player all season.

Of the five teams in the NFL that have been outscored by 100 points or more, three reside in the West (Oakland -120, Kansas City -124, and St Louis -201) Seattle has been outscored by 95.

It almost seems like a mathematical impossibility.

San Diego and Arizona combined point differential: +68

The other six: -618

Couldn't they at least beat each other?