Either the Los Angeles Rams or San Francisco 49ers will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium on February 13th. For the 49ers, it would be their second NFC title in the last three years. For the Rams, who reached the Super Bowl in 2018, it would be two in four years.
The NFC West has been considered the NFL’s most dominant division for about a decade now and whether or not that train stops rolling soon (it doesn’t appear to be), the ride definitely doesn’t end in 2022. Either the Rams or 49ers are going to be playing for the Super Bowl championship in short order.
The Arizona Cardinals were knocked out in the wild card round... by the Rams. The Seattle Seahawks, the most recent NFC West team to win the Super Bowl, may have reached the postseason this year if not for a 1-3 record against the Rams and Cardinals.
The 2020 postseason featured two NFC West teams, with the Seahawks falling at the hands of the Rams, who were knocked out in round two on the road against the Packers.
The 2019 postseason featured two NFC West teams, with the Seahawks beating the Eagles and losing in the divisional round (on the road to the Packers) and the 49ers losing the Super Bowl 31-20 to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The 2018 postseason featured two NFC West teams, with the Seahawks losing in round one to the Dallas Cowboys and the Rams falling in the Super Bowl to Tom Brady’s Patriots.
The last time only one NFC West team made the postseason was 2017. This year, the AFC South, NFC North, and NFC South each only sent one team to the postseason. In 2020, it was the AFC East, AFC West, and NFC East that only sent one team to the postseason. The AFC North only sent one team in 2019.
So the NFC West has had four straight years of getting at least one wild card into the playoffs, while sending three this year, and every other division has been a one-team playoff race at least once in the last three years.
The last time the Cardinals won a playoff game was 2015, when they went 13-3 and won the division, then beat the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round. Arizona fell to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship; every NFC West team has reached the NFC Championship at least once since 2014.
Dating back to 2011, the 49ers have reached the NFC Championship five times; the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks have been there two times each; and the Arizona Cardinals have been there once but are also coming off of their fourth 10+ win season since 2013. The Cardinals had a total of five 10-win seasons prior to 2009 and half of their 11-win seasons have come in the last eight years alone.
However, the NFC West isn’t doing that great when they get to the Super Bowl.
The only NFC West team to win the Super Bowl since 2002 realignment is the 2013 Seahawks. The 49ers lost in 2012 and 2019, while the Rams lost in 2018. The Cardinals lost their only Super Bowl appearance, falling 27-23 to the Steelers in 2008. Seattle also fell in the 2005 Super Bowl to the Steelers.
The winner of Sunday’s game will either be facing the Kansas City Chiefs—looking to reach for the third consecutive year—or the Bengals, a team that was 2-14 two years ago and hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since 1988. There, they fell 20-16 to... the San Francisco 49ers.
Either the Rams or 49ers will represent the NFC in the next Super Bowl. In 2022, both teams figure to be back in the race, the Cardinals hope to keep building on what was started with Kyler Murray early in the season, and the Seahawks think they can compete again if Russell Wilson is kept in the building for another year. The NFC West doesn’t figure to go away any time soon—is any other division willing to step up and stop them before the Super Bowl?