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War in the West: How the NFL’s star division is set to be one of the best

Loaded with talent and edging towards divisional greatness, the 2021 NFC West is set to be one of the most talented divisions the NFL has ever seen.

With star-power across all four teams, and a couple of big trades helping to reshape franchises, NFL fans are in for a treat across all divisional matchups. The Seattle Seahawks were the eventual winners of the division in 2020 but with seemingly a storm brewing behind closed doors, it poses the question of whether or not they will be fit to retain their title.

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We saw an insight into the fragility of divisional ownership when the Rams beat the Seahawks in the Playoffs just weeks after Seattle had claimed the division. The San Francisco 49ers were out of the equation for the majority of the season due to injuries but should they return at their Super Bowl level of form they will be immediate contenders moving forward this season. The Cardinals, with the addition of JJ Watt, have planted their flag as true challengers, not only in the NFC West but in the conference as a whole.

As fans, we were able to see just how crucial one or two big-name off-season signings can be to a team’s future successes. The Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers wouldn’t have earned themselves that title if it weren’t for the addition of Tom Brady last off season. Such a signing is evidence that key players can take a team from outsiders to champions in mere months. The significance of the JJ Watt signing is of a similar magnitude. Watt will face the Seahawks twice a season, the team who surrendered the most sacks of any team in the NFL last season.

In the eyes of many, the biggest move of the off-season to date has been the trade between the Los Angeles Rams and the Detroit Lions which saw long-time Lions QB Matt Stafford pack his bags and head out west. Meanwhile, Jared Goff gets himself a fresh start in Detroit and has an opportunity to prove himself as a former number one overall pick.

Stafford has endured a long-suffering career of mediocrity through no fault of his own. An organization that failed to give him any credible opportunities of winning will now look to rectify the mistakes of their own history by starting anew with Jared Goff. Stafford, however, will now enjoy some protection behind a good offensive line and a supporting cast capable of winning games. When the length of the trade has panned out, the Rams won’t have selected in the first round of the draft for seven years.

The extended playoff format means that an extra team in each conference is permitted into the playoffs which may often lead to three teams from the one division making it to the postseason. What is unfortunate for the NFC West is that inevitably somebody, potentially two teams, is going to have to miss out on the opportunity to play for the Lombardi.

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Perhaps best described as organized chaos, the NFC West is going to produce some amazing games this season. With all four teams desperate for deep post-season runs and eventual success, it will undoubtedly produce some of the best games we have seen in years.

Teams cannot afford to fall a game or two behind in a division where it’s assumed the other three teams around you are going to win every week. From the position of the neutral fan, this is fantastic news. They will be able to sit back, relax and enjoy these games for what they are worth without having to worry about the repercussions or ramifications moving forward. Concurrently, for the fans of Seattle, LA, San Francisco and Arizona, this is going to be one crazy season and one which may see an NFC West Super Bowl winner for the first time since Super Bowl 48.

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Michael Lavery writes on behalf of the Irish NFL Show who are in partnership with Pundit Arena. Tune into their Sunday, Monday and Thursday shows every week on Facebook.