Future Power Rankings: NFC West on rise

ESPN's Herm Edwards and Field Yates explain in the video above why the San Francisco 49ers rank No. 1 in our Future Power RankingsInsider projecting ahead to 2016.

"Their only problem is this: Long term, there is a team up north built similar to the San Francisco 49ers," Edwards said. "That is the Seahawks. They are really a carbon copy of the San Francisco 49ers. They run the ball very well, they are physical on defense, they have big players. You look at these two rosters, you notice they have big people who can run."

Both appear stable in key areas: head coach, general manager and starting quarterback. The St. Louis Rams can make some of those claims, albeit with less certainty and less on-field evidence collected to this point. Those three NFC West teams are either on the rise or perceived to be that way.

The chart below shows how perceptions about the future differ from what has actually happened in the recent past.

For example, the Rams finished 32nd in 2009, 19th in 2010, 31st in 2011 and 17th in 2012, defined by their position in the following year's draft order (the team first in draft order finished 32nd the season before, and so on). The Rams ranked 24.8 on average over those seasons. We project them to rank eighth in 2016, a gain of 16.8 spots, largest in the NFL.

The Rams, Seahawks (plus-13) and 49ers (plus-11.8) top the list. The Arizona Cardinals rank quite a bit lower, but perceptions change quickly. The Cardinals are just starting out under new leadership. They do not appear to have a long-term solution at quarterback. There isn't as much to analyze at this point.

Edwards and Yates speak at length about the Rams in the video above, citing some of the data I've reference on the blog.

2016 Projected Rankings vs. Where Teams Finished From 2009-2012