Post 2021-22 NFL Season Review of NFC West

Post 2021-22 NFL Season Review of NFC West
Wed 23rd February 2022

After a thrilling season, the NFL is officially over for another year. So, the team at SportsTips thought it would be a good idea to go through every team in the NFC West, and have a look at the year that was!

Arizona Cardinals 

Through the first 12 games of the season, the Arizona Cardinals were 10-2 and vying for the number one seed in the NFC—then disaster struck. The team lost star receiver Deandre Hopkins to injury; fell to division rivals the Los Angeles Rams and the league-worst Detroit Lions in consecutive weeks; and ultimately fell out of first and into a wild card spot. 

They had a chance to start over in the postseason as they faced the Rams yet again, but their collapse became complete as they were steamrolled 11-34 in Los Angeles. During the regular season, Kyler Murray continued to develop into a star as the Cardinals’ offense was one of the best in the NFL behind his 29 total touchdowns in just 14 games. 

On defense, the Cardinals also had plenty of talent—including safety Budda Baker and lineman Chandler Jones—whose play made the Cardinals’ defense one of best in football against the pass. Still, all of this talent wasn’t enough for the Cardinals to make a serious run at a championship, as they ran out of gas when it mattered most. 

Even more concerning: there have been recent reports that Kyler Murray is unhappy with the organization. This could end up being a nightmare scenario for the Cardinals, who drafted Murray number one overall just three seasons ago. This team is packed with talent, but they need to learn to deal with adversity. Next season will be a big test to see if they’ll be able to do that or not. 

Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams’ “win now” strategy paid off, as they won the 2022 Super Bowl over the Cincinnati Bengals to reign as champions of the NFL. In recent years, the team has done whatever it takes to bring a championship roster to the “City of Angels.” They acquired the likes of Matthew Stafford, Jalen Ramsey, Odell Beckham Jr., and Von Miller to bolster this roster to new heights. 

Acquiring Stafford was a huge step, as the quarterback was able to take over a dynamic offense after patiently playing with the Detroit Lions for over a decade. He instantly started a connection with receiver Cooper Kupp, who went on to win the Offensive Player of the Year after leading the NFL in receiving yards and touchdowns. 

Stafford was also thrilled to get Odell Beckham Jr. at around midseason, as the two played well off of each other, eventually leading Stafford to 41 touchdown passes on the season. The Rams’ stellar play didn’t end on the offensive side of the ball: they continued to make big plays on defense too. 

Aaron Donald was his usual dominant self, recording 12.5 sacks. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey put together a Pro Bowl year, and safety Jordan Fuller led the team in tackles to give the secondary plenty of firepower. Through coach Sean McVay’s excellent coaching, this squad was able to be among the league’s best in several team categories including passing yards per game, points per game, and on defense, rush yards allowed. 

During the regular season, they captured the NFC West after the Arizona Cardinals had a major collapse a little over halfway through the season. But, no questions were asked after the Rams smoked the Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs 34-11. They followed that game with a 30-27 defeat over the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and then to claim the NFC, they won a gritty game against division rivals the San Francisco 49ers. 

That win advanced them to the Super Bowl on their home field of SoFi Stadium. In the Super Bowl, the Rams started hot, but eventually, their opponent the Cincinnati Bengals crawled back and were leading 16-20 with under five minutes left in the game. Luckily, Stafford led a stunning drive to put the Rams on top 23-20. 

The Bengals struck some fear on their final drive, but Aaron Donald and Co. made sure to finish them off and win the game 23-20. The Rams are NFL champs and even though they’ll enjoy the offseason, come September they’ll have 31 teams gunning for that Lombardi trophy.

San Francisco 49ers

After a tough loss in Super Bowl 54, the San Francisco 49ers had a down year in 2020, finishing 6-10 (last place in the NFC West). Luckily for the Niners, that misery was short-lived: the team bounced back in 2021, going 10-7 and sliding into the postseason. But even in those seven losses, the Niners were rarely out of the game. 

They only lost to both conference one seeds (Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans) by three points or less; had a couple of games gone in their favor, they easily could’ve topped the NFC West. San Francisco proved how good they really are in the postseason as they stifled the Dallas Cowboys’ top offense in the first round, winning 23-17. 

They then upset the number one ranked Green Bay Packers 13-10 at Lambeau Field. It started to feel like the Niners were a team of destiny as they went to Los Angeles for the NFC Championship Game, but unfortunately, they fell just short, losing to their division rivals the Los Angeles Rams 17-20. Still, this 49ers team proved they’ll continue to be a force for years to come. 

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel had a Pro Bowl year and became one of the most exhilarating young stars in the league. Nick Bosa bounced back after an injury-plagued 2020, to record 15.5 sacks, as this defense didn’t seem to lose a beat after losing coordinator Robert Salah to the New York Jets.

The 49ers’ excellent coaching staff and wide range of talent should continue to take them far and with the Cardinals in dysfunction and the Rams having a potential Super Bowl hangover, this team could find itself back in the running for a Super Bowl in 2023.

Seattle Seahawks

For the first time since Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson teamed up in 2012, the Seattle Seahawks had a losing season, finishing 7-10. This was only the second time that this coach/quarterback combo has missed the playoffs in that time frame, as the Seahawks had a hard time making things click. 

For the second straight season, the defense started off poor, then right as they started to make the proper adjustments, Wilson missed games with an injury for the first time in his career; creating struggles for the offense. During the last couple weeks of the season, the team finally started to look like the Seahawks team we’ve grown to know over the last decade, including a huge 38-30 road win over the Arizona Cardinals. 

On defense, Bobby Wagner continued his dominance, recording 170 tackles, and his apprentice—the second year Jordyn Brooks—recorded 184 tackles. Meanwhile, safety Quadre Diggs enjoyed his first Pro Bowl appearance. Still, even with all the individual talent on the Seahawks’ defense, they underwhelmed as a unit. 

The ‘Hawks D gave up the second-most passing yards per game this season and the fifth most total yards in the NFL. That led to the firing of Ken Norton Jr. this offseason; with a new unit of coaches coming in, this Seahawks team will hope to get back to their dominant days on defense from early last decade. 

Some think it’s time to move on from the Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson partnership, while others don’t think one poor year should be taken that seriously. Next season could be a make-or-break year for this franchise—they have the pieces, but in possibly the NFL’s toughest division, there is a minimal margin for error. 

Even though the season has finished, we’ve got you covered with all the latest information on the NFL! We keep you as up to date as possible, so you don’t miss any of the action this off-season.

Michael is an avid follower of America's "Big Four" major sports, and a massive fan of European soccer. He may be a die-hard Seattle sports fan, but he's also one of their biggest critics—so there never has to be any fear over "biased picks." Michael makes sure to watch all games with a meticulous eye, so he can offer the highest quality picks and analysis for all readers.