Each week, SB Nation NFL sites have been answering a question about the teams they cover.
Two weeks ago, we talked about the off-field charitable works teams were doing. Last week, we highlighted the best newcomer to every team in 2017. Today with five regular season weeks under our belts, every SBN site is looking at who’s leading their respective divisions.
On one hand, there’s an easy out here. In Week 5, the Seattle Seahawks came to SoCal to play the Los Angeles Rams on our home soil. They won. Given that the Seahawks have won the NFC West four times in the last seven years under Head Coach Pete Carroll and have won at least 10 games in each of the last five years with QB Russell Wilson at the helm, it would be pretty easy to just proclaim that the Seahawks remain seated at the throne. And honestly until they’re dethroned, they get to lay claim. That’s just how it works.
But we’re not looking at who won last year or in which trophy case the silverware resides.
We’re looking at who’s the best team in the NFC West today. And that’s hard to tell because yesterday’s champion is, fact proven, the Seattle Seahawks. But it looks an awful lot like tomorrow’s champion will be the Los Angeles Rams. Which makes a question of at which point today will we cross that threshold.
In Sunday’s game thread, I posed the matchup as a bit of a self-examination, a battle between the Rams’ former and future selves. Given the outcomes...yeah, the shadow Rams whooped up on the horizon Rams.
But those horizon Rams still exist in a form that don’t exist for the other NFC West teams.
The San Francisco 49ers have a new general manager and a new head coach and a hole at quarterback the size of Kirk Cousins’ 2018 contract. The Arizona Cardinals were already facing questions of the future with QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald standing on one foot already out the retirement door; they avoided answering those questions yesterday by trading for a Hall of Fame-caliber running back who might have one and a half feet out that same door.
As it stands right now, the battle for the NFC West is between the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams which might ultimately come down to that same battle on Sunday, one of the Rams defeating themselves.
On this week’s podcast, I used the metaphor from the Empire Strikes Back when Luke Skywalker, under the tutelage of Jedi master Yoda, faces what he thinks to be the final test of his skills: Darth Vader. But when Vader’s mask explodes after Luke decapitates him, he sees the face inside is his own.
(skip to the 2:40 mark)
It’s an old allegory. There are only seven major types of literary conflict, and man versus self is one of the oldest. The old devil on one shoulder, angel on the other. It’s Polonius telling Hamlet, “This above all: to thine own self be true.” Or if you like your allegories watered down and animated, take the Disney version of Hamlet, the Lion King.
The Rams have yet to defeat their former selves. Until they do, they’re still stuck on the path.
The best team of yesterday’s NFC West remains the Seattle Seahawks. The best team of tomorrow’s NFC West looks like it could be in LA.
But today? I’m not sure if we’re closer to yesterday or tomorrow. And given what happened Sunday, I’m not sure that either of those two teams know either.