As the NFC West turns: Rams' turn to smile

The San Francisco 49ers entered the 2010 season as the popular choice to win the NFC West title.

The schedule set up so favorably for Arizona near midseason that I thought the Cardinals would have a hard time finishing worse than 8-8.

Then came the Seattle Seahawks' turn to emerge as the NFC West team feeling best about its chances. With Matt Hasselbeck getting hot, Arizona struggling and San Francisco getting shut out at home against Tampa Bay, Seattle was gaining momentum with four of its final six games at home.

Now, it's the St. Louis Rams' turn to emerge as the team most worthy of the dreaded division favorite's status. The Rams' 36-33 victory over Denver contrasted sharply with the Seahawks' 42-24 defeat. More than any team in the division this season, the Rams have remained consistently competitive, getting blown out only once. Note: I'm not counting the 34-17 defeat to Atlanta as a blowout because the Rams were at the Falcons' 2-yard line trailing by nine with 3:31 remaining.

The 49ers have lost by at least 21 points three times.

Arizona has lost by at least 18 points four times, including defeats by 31 and 34 points.

Seattle's six defeats have come by staggering margins: 17, 17, 30, 34, 15 and 18 points.

The Rams lost by 38 at Detroit and 17 against Atlanta, but their remaining four defeats came by a combined 10 points (four, three, two and one point). The Rams are the only reasonably stable stock in a wildly fluctuating NFC West market.

2010 NFC West Standings: Weeks 1-12