Coming into the season, there was a compelling case to be made that the NFL’s toughest division was the NFC West.
All four teams had strengths that could be relied upon to win a lot of games on paper, and it wouldn’t have been farfetched for all four teams to make the NFC playoffs.
A healthy San Francisco 49ers team, only two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, figured to be a problem on both sides of the ball.
The Los Angeles Rams figured to get a huge boost under center with Matthew Stafford.
The Arizona Cardinals would have another year of maturation under their belt, and quarterback Kyler Murray would be primed to take the next step.
Things Did Not Quite Unfold That Way
As it turns out, the 49ers and Seahawks now face an uphill climb to remain relevant in the division.
Somewhat unbelievably, San Francisco has had to deal with another wave of injuries in 2021, which is holding them back from being the type of team head coach Kyle Shanahan thought they would be.
The Seahawks weren’t bit as hard by the injury bug consistently, but they’ll now have to stomach the loss of the one player they could least afford to be without.
Wilson figures to be out for at least the next month, and a team who was as reliant on their passing offense as Seattle figures to take a step back in the next several weeks.
Reserve signal-caller Geno Smith had a decent performance in relief against the Rams last Thursday, but doesn’t figure to provide the same level of play as Seattle’s franchise quarterback.
Taking A Closer Look At The Rams and Cardinals
That leaves the Cardinals (5-0) and the Rams (4-1) as the class of a division that still remains as competitive as any in the league.
Arizona dispatched of San Francisco on Sunday in Lance’s first career start, and it was an impressive win despite the relatively low margin of victory.
In Arizona’s victories, Murray has put up all types of impressive numbers that support his candidacy for NFL MVP.
However, Sunday’s game was not a wide open type of affair, and Arizona’s defense stifled the rookie quarterback.
If Isaiah Simmons can continue to play at a high level all over the field, and J.J. Watt can bottle up some of his prior dynamic ability with the Houston Texans, the Cardinals could be as well-rounded as any team in the league.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) October 11, 2021
Los Angeles already fits the bill of a team who can beat you on offense or defense, and their arrow only continues to point up.
After a month of play where he was missing in action, wide receiver Robert Woods reentered the fray as an option for the Los Angeles offense.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) October 9, 2021
He caught 12 passes for 150 yards against Seattle last Thursday, re-establishing himself as a viable threat opposite of Cooper Kupp.
If Los Angeles can make opposing defenses think twice about doubling Kupp, their attack will be that much more potent.