And no, I’m not talking about the Houston Texans having the best winning percentage in NFL playoffs history. (It’s true!)
Did you know that since the NFL realigned into eight divisions in 2002 that only one divisions has had at least one team in the divisional round of the playoffs every year? This is fact. Can you guess which division it is?
If you said the NFC West, then you my friend are better at filtering out mainstream media platitudes* than most.
Despite the oft-heard refrain that the NFC West is worse than the Mountain West, the division has had pretty good playoff success in comparison to its moribund reputation.
* – Full disclosure: I’ve been guilty of regurgitating the “NFC West sucks” refrain myself. So I am posting this, in part, as an apology to a division that I must admit has had a little more consistent success than I anticipated.
For the record, here are the number of years each division has had at least one participant in the divisional round since realignment (via Wikipedia):
- NFC West – 10
- NFC South – 9
- NFC East – 9
- NFC North – 9
- AFC East – 9
- AFC South – 9
- AFC North – 8
- AFC West – 8
If we take it a step further, here are the number of years that each division has had at least one participant in its conference’s championship game:
- NFC South – 6
- AFC East – 6
- NFC East – 5
- AFC South – 4
- AFC North – 4
- NFC North – 3
- AFC West – 3
- NFC West – 2
So clearly the NFC West has had much more success in the Wild Card round or in getting a first round bye than they have in the divisional round.
BUT…the NFC West is 2-0 in the NFC Championship Game. This is good news for the 49ers: just beat the Saints and history suggests they are marching on the Super Bowl.
Also, if San Francisco does make it to the Super Bowl, it will mean that three of the four NFC West teams have made it to the Super Bowl since realignment; and, for what it’s worth, the Rams won the Super Bowl the year before realignment.
Here is a list of how many different teams from each division have made the Super Bowl since realignment:
- NFC South – 3
- NFC East – 2
- NFC West – 2
- NFC North – 2
- AFC East – 1
- AFC South – 1
- AFC North – 1
- AFC West – 1
What does all of this mean? Not much, other than to prove the point that I bet the NFC West has had more playoff success than most people remember considering how often the division is poo-pooed. Even last year, the nadir of the NFC West in which a 7-9 team made the playoffs, that 7-9 team still pulled a big upset and made the divisional round.
Just remember the next time someone states how awful the NFC West is. It’s not nearly as bad as you think!