The Oakland Raiders came to CenturyLink Field for the final preseason game for the third consecutive year on Thursday, August 29. 2013. It was also the eighth consecutive year the Seahawks and the Raiders have squared off in the final preseason tilt. This preseason saw the Seahawks take on three of the four old AFC West rivals (the Kansas City Chiefs were not on the schedule).
I miss the old AFC West match-ups. Rivalries had been established between the Seahawks and those teams, although it always seemed the Seahawks were the fifth wheel at the party, with the other four being original AFL teams whose rivalries dated back to the early 1960s. That’s tradition.
After playing in the AFC West for more than twenty years, the Seahawks were placed back in the NFC West in the realignment of 2002. Since that season, the NFC West has lacked any real rivalry. The division has only seen two playoff participants in a single season three times, (2003, 2004 and 2012), but it had been almost a decade since the last time before both the 49ers and Seahawks represented the division in 2012.
The division just lacked a punch, and was frequently chided as being the “NFC Worst.” One could hardly argue. It was topped off in 2010, when the Seahawks won the division with a 7-9 record, the first time in NFL history a division champion finished with a losing record. This did not reflect badly on the Seahawks, but rather on the division as a whole. And due to there being no intense competition for the division title, no real rivalries have developed post-realignment in the NFC West.
Those days are in the past. The NFC West has been touted as being the most powerful in the league, and one would have a hard time disagreeing with that assessment. The 49ers and Seahawks each bring an outstanding defense, coupled with dynamic offenses led by exciting young quarterbacks. The Rams and the Cardinals made some significant offseason moves and neither should be overlooked.
The road to the playoffs for the Seahawks will long. It will take place in a brutal division with a difficult road schedule. And it likely will not always be a thing of beauty. Football is a brutal game, and the season is long. And the division’s weaker opponents are not all that weak any longer. I don’t think any team is going to walk away with the division this year, and it is quite possible three playoff teams will come from this division. The days of the “NFC Worst” are over. Say hello to the “NFC Best.”
With that said, I am very glad to see the preseason in the rear-view mirror, and I’m ready for regular season action.
Hang on, folks. It’s gonna be a helluva ride!