Not long ago, the AFC West and NFC West occupied the bottom rung of their respective conferences’ ladders. That has changed dramatically, just in time for a New York/New Jersey open-air Super Bowl.
Three years after Seattle secured the NFC West with a 7-9 record and two years after Denver captured the AFC West at 8-8, the previously-maligned quartets of teams could make up half of the entire 2013 postseason field.
In the AFC, losses by the Ravens and Dolphins coupled with a Chargers win over the Chiefs would put Denver, Kansas City, and San Diego in the playoffs. In the NFC, a win by the Cardinals over the 49ers coupled with a Buccaneers upset of the Saints in the Superdome would propel Seattle, San Fran, and Arizona to the elimination round.
Also, wins by Seattle and Denver over teams that once played in Los Angeles (Rams and Raiders) would give the NFC West and AFC West the top seeds in each conference.
While anything can happen once the tournament begins, six cards in a 12-team deck could come from what recently were the two worst divisions in the sport.