clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The NFC West was as tough as advertised in 2021

Seattle Seahawks v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

When Pete Carroll took over as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, the NFC West was an absolute laughing stock. The 2010 Seahawks won the division title with a 7-9 record and all of their losses were by double-digits.

It’s safe to say that things have changed substantially since then.

The NFC West was widely considered the best division in the NFL entering the 2021 season, and the extra wild card made it feasible for every single team to qualify for the playoffs. Well... three of them did, and the Seahawks were the odd team out.

No division had more wins (40) than the NFC West, and thanks to the Las Vegas Raiders not daring to play for the tie against the Los Angeles Chargers at the end of overtime, was the only division in either conference to send three teams to the postseason. With the Los Angeles Rams set to rematch the Arizona Cardinals again, at least one NFC West side is guaranteed to make the Divisional Round.

It’s extremely NFC West that the 49ers swept the Rams, who swept the Seahawks, who swept the 49ers, who were swept by the Cardinals, who beat both the Seahawks and 49ers on the road with Colt McCoy at quarterback.

But these are just regular ol’ stats and considering this site is a lifelong subscriber to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, I think I’ve saved the best stat for last.

Even though the Seahawks missed the playoffs at 7-10, they are the only team without a winning record to finish top-10 in DVOA. The entire NFC West made it in here, with the Rams ranked the highest (5th) and Arizona rounding out the top-10.

When weighted DVOA is factored in, the Cardinals get booted out but the other three remain among the top.

DVOA is not really that big a fan of the Green Bay Packers’ defense or special teams, with the latter unit looking extremely inept throughout the season. The efficiency metric remains unconvinced that the Seahawks defense is good, but the offense and special teams are both rated highly. The most balanced unit would be the division-winning Rams, who rank top-10 across the board in offense, defense, and special teams.

So yes, the NFC West is that good and the Seahawks could’ve made it a quartet of above-.500 squads if not for Russell Wilson’s injury. Seattle also was unusually bad at winning close games this year whether with a healthy Wilson, an injured Wilson, or healthy Geno Smith, which is why they’re two wins below their pythagorean wins (which is strictly a point differential model). Hopefully Seattle’s fortunes change next season and that the degree of difficulty to win this division is a little easier.