Can the 49ers survive the NFC West, seal the deal in 2013?
For two consecutive NFL postseasons the San Francisco 49ers have come painstakingly close to winning the Super Bowl. From a blown game at home during the NFC Championship in 2011 to a blown call that would have given the Niners first and goal in Super Bowl 47, few football fans would argue that over the course of the last two seasons, the San Francisco 49ers have been the best team in the league. With that said, the coveted Lombardi Trophy has found ways to elude them. Can the 49ers get it done in 2013? It might not be as easy as one thinks.
The 49ers have everything they need to win a championship now; a franchise quarterback with offensive weaponry at the skilled positions, a top-tier defense and an exceptional coaching staff that was left unscathed following the multitude of coaching changes after the NFL regular season. So why might it be difficult for the Niners to win the Super Bowl? The answer lies within their own division in the form of the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams.
Both the Seahawks and Rams made tremendous strides during 2012 and will be even better in 2013. In 2012, Seattle split their season series with the 49ers with each team winning at home. Meanwhile, the Rams owned the Niners tying them in San Francisco and beating them in St. Louis. Needless to say, when it comes to these three NFC West teams, regardless of records, their head-to-head matchups are going to be a dogfight. And although the 49ers will be favored, such a competitive division puts the NFC West up for grabs in 2013. This could be a blessing or a curse to the 49ers championship aspirations.
In 2011 the NFC East was a very competitive division. The New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles all beat up on one another; this year’s NFC West is shaping up to be the same. Back then it was the Giants that emerged as division champions and despite entering the playoffs at 9-7, their week in and week out struggles within the division made them battle tested which ultimately carried them to a second Super Bowl in four years. For the 49ers championship dreams, the problem with playing in such a tight division is that there are no guarantees on which team will emerge from the pack and the fact that the team or teams that make it to the playoff, may not have anything left in the tank. It’s really a hit or miss scenario.
The key for the 49ers in 2013 will be to make the playoffs first. They can’t afford to look beyond the NFC West beforehand or they could find themselves on the outside looking in come playoff time. Doubtful certainly, but who really knows? I’m sure Jim Harbaugh, Colin Kaepernick Patrick Willis and company will be up to the task of getting another shot at glory but the rejuvenated Rams and surging Seahawks might have something to say about it.
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