The Rams, 2-1-1 against the 49ers and Seahawks, went 5-7 against everyone else.
"I give [coach] Jeff Fisher credit," Rams general manager Les Snead said from the NFL scouting combine. "As we went into this year (2012), we had some bigger conceptual goals. One of them was, we're gonna let the division know that we're gonna be around for a while. And we're gonna set the tone. So to go out and compete with those two teams and battle the Niners in games that basically went into the final second of two overtimes, that's probably more the culture shift with Jeff than anything in the locker room."
It's a convenient narrative and one that invites some skepticism, but I think there's something to what Snead was saying. The on-field results suggest Fisher and his staff put additional emphasis on preparation for divisional opponents.
The Rams might have enjoyed an advantage in preparation because every divisional opponent had incumbent coaching staffs and players with established tendencies. Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona will know more about Fisher and the Rams when the teams play in 2013.
Either way, I'm expecting another competitive season within the division. As Snead said, the Rams are going to be a factor for a while.