The St. Louis Rams, though home for the NFC playoffs, finished the 2012 season with a positive combined net points differential against second-seeded San Francisco and fifth-seeded Seattle.
Their defense and special teams deserve some of the credit, for sure.
2012 Single-game NFC West QBR Highs
So does quarterback Sam Bradford.
As concerning as it might be for Rams fans to see young quarterbacks emerging elsewhere in the NFC West, they should know Bradford generally did his part in hard-fought games against the more talented 49ers and Seahawks.
The Rams' third-year quarterback finished the 2012 season with a 67.1 Total QBR score in four games against San Francisco and Seattle. Fifty is average. Players with a 65-plus score or higher over a full season would generally command Pro Bowl consideration.
Bradford posted a 2-1-1 starting record against Seattle and San Francisco. He completed 62 percent of his passes with three touchdowns, two picks and only six sacks on 156 dropbacks. He added three first downs on seven rushes.
Bradford posted a season-high 82.0 QBR score during the Rams' 24-24 tie at San Francisco in Week 10. He completed 26 of 39 passes for 259 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. That included seven third-down pass completions resulting in first downs. That game demonstrated the Rams at their best on offense, with the potential for more (top deep threat Chris Givens missed that game).
A penalty for illegal formation against receiver Brandon Gibson wiped out an 80-yard strike to Danny Amendola in overtime, a play that likely would have delivered the Rams to victory while affecting the NFC playoff race and possibly getting St. Louis to .500 for the season.
Now, for the not-so-good news: Bradford's QBR score was a below-average 43.2 against all other opponents. His starting record in those games was 5-7, with four of the victories against Arizona (twice), Buffalo and a tanking Tampa Bay team.
I've felt as though a player drafted as early as Bradford was drafted -- first overall in 2010 -- should occasionally dominate a game. There should be times when the opponent leaves the stadium thinking something along the lines of, "Hey, when Sam Bradford gets hot like that, there's not much anyone can do about it."
We haven't seen those types of games from Bradford. We still might if the Rams continue to upgrade the players around him. For this season, he was good enough to help the Rams compete on pretty even terms with the two best teams in the NFC West. That's a start.
With that, let's take a player-by-player look at NFC West quarterbacks in relation to Total QBR for Week 17:
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (81.4 QBR, 114.6 NFL rating). Kaepernick completed 16 of 28 passes for 276 yards with two touchdowns, zero interceptions and one sack. Kaepernick carried three times for 5 yards and zero first downs. There are times when players with high NFL passer ratings don't fare so well in terms of QBR. That was the case for the 49ers' Alex Smith last season. QBR was telling us what the 49ers told us when they decided to replace Smith with Kaepernick this season (although Smith's QBR score was much higher in 2012). Kaepernick, like Smith, has posted high passer ratings pretty consistently. QBR also likes the way he's playing. I think that's a very good sign for the 49ers in the long term, and perhaps in the short term as well. Kaepernick finished the regular season with a 76.8 QBR score. That ranked third in the NFL behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Smith ranks seventh with a 70.1 QBR score this season.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (69.0 QBR, 74.7 NFL rating). Bradford completed 25 of 42 passes for 252 yards with one touchdown, one interception and zero sacks. Bradford carried one time for 6 yards and a first down. Bradford's QBR score was 73.2 in the first half and 65.2 in the second half. Bradford has generally been better in second halves this season. He was pretty consistent against Seattle.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (65.7 QBR, 136.3 NFL rating). Wilson completed 15 of 19 passes for 250 yards with one touchdown, zero interceptions and six sacks. Wilson carried 10 times for 58 yards and the game-winning touchdown. He had three first downs rushing and 32 of his 58 yards after contact, with a long rush of 15 yards. Wilson struggled against the Rams' pressure in the first half, taking five sacks. He outplayed Bradford in the second half, but Bradford still finished with a slightly higher QBR score, largely because he took no sacks.
Brian Hoyer, Arizona Cardinals (43.4 QBR, 73.8 NFL rating). Hoyer completed 19 of 34 passes for 225 yards with one touchdown, one interception and two sacks. Hoyer had one carry for 6 yards and a first down. Hoyer threw a touchdown pass, a significant achievement for the Cardinals recently. They had tossed only two scoring passes with 15 interceptions from Week 7 until this game.
The chart below shows QBR scores for quarterbacks relevant to NFC West games in Week 17. Rankings in the first column reflect all NFL games for the week.