Once the NFL season concluded, I wondered just how much better the NFC West had gotten in 2011 versus 2010. Clearly San Francisco 49′ers had gotten better and clearly the St. Louis Rams got worse. Compared to 2010 though, the balance between wins and losses was greater than any other division in the NFL. The Arizona Cardinals were plus three wins in 2011. The Seattle Seahawks were even at the same number of wins, seven. The NFC West saw an increase in five wins in 2011, the best of any division. The AFC North saw the next best improvement at plus four wins over 2010. However, that being said, the NFC West was still overall one of the weaker divisions in 2011, tying the NFC East with 30 wins. Only one division was worse, the AFC South, with only 26 wins.
The Rams surprised by being as bad as they were, however they were poorly coached and had some key injuries, including to quarterback Sam Bradford. They also were victim to a very tough schedule.
The Niners improved by seven wins and surprised with how good they were. I was a little surprised at how the Seahawks finished. I had few expectations for them when the season began, however they were competitive and lost a few games they could have won. The same could be said for the Cardinals.
Here is how the divisions did in order of most improved to least from 2010 to 2011:
NFC West: +5 (25 wins to 30 wins)
AFC North: +4 (33 wins to 37 wins)
NFC North: +3 (33 wins to 36 wins)
AFC West: 0 (31 wins each season)
NFC East: -2 (32 wins to 30 wins)
NFC South: -2 (36 wins to 33 wins)
AFC East: -2 (36 wins to 33 wins)
AFC South: -4 (30 wins to 26 wins)