We're two weeks into the NFL season, which means it certainly isn't time for hyperbole, yet.
That being said, let's go ahead and throw out some hyperbole anyway: The much maligned NFC West looks like the best conference in the NFL so far.
San Francisco has looked dominant in dismantling 2011 playoff teams Green Bay and Detroit. Arizona beat New England in the Patriots' home owner, the first time that's ever happened in their current stadium. Seattle dispatched Dallas easily after a close Week 1 loss at Arizona. And even seemingly hapless St. Louis squeaked out a win against a resurgent Washington team.
What's going on in the NFC West, a division that has been viewed as the perpetual doormat of the NFL until Indianapolis, Tennessee and Jacksonville also decided they wanted to be the NFL's version of the Big 10.
Let's take a look at the conference standings so far:
AFC East: 4-4
AFC North: 3-5
AFC South: 3-5
AFC West: 3-5
NFC East: 5-3
NFC North: 4-4
NFC South: 4-4
NFC West: 6-2
Now, let's compare that to last year's final standings:
AFC East: 33-31
AFC North: 37-27
AFC South: 26-38
AFC West: 31-33
NFC East: 30-34
NFC North: 36-28
NFC South: 33-31
NFC West: 30-34
Yes, the second-worst conference in the league last year in overall standings – and it would had been far worse if not for San Francisco's breakout year – is leading the league this year. Is it a ridiculously small sample size? Of course, it is. Would that stop ESPN? Of course not. And it won't stop me either.
Though, this week will be the telling one with St. Louis at Chicago, Philadelphia at Arizona and Green Bay at Seattle. (San Francisco should be able to hold its own at Minnesota.) Another 4-0 week like this past one and we might have to consider that we have a new power conference in the NFL. From a place nobody would have imagined at the start of the season.
• Joe Grace is a writer and journalist who lives in Chicago with his wife. His predictions? Chicago over St. Louis. Philadelphia over Arizona. Green Bay over Seattle. And Minnesota stunning San Francisco to ensure that this was the most-wrong sports column ever written.
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