The NFC West has transformed into, perhaps the strongest division in the NFL heading into the 2013 season.
Last season, the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks both made the playoffs, and the 49ers were just a few yards away from winning the Super Bowl.
The St. Louis Rams actually won the most games against division opponents (4-1-1), despite missing the playoffs in 2012.
Coming off a 5-11 season, the Arizona Cardinals will have their work cut out for them in the West this year.
ESPN analyst and former NFL head coach Herm Edwards joined Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf on Monday to preview the NFC West.
"There is some excitement with the NFC West," Edwards said. "It was just two or three years ago that 7-9 won it and you wondered if any of these guys should make the playoffs."
In 2010, the Seahawks won the NFC West with a 7-9 record. Since then, the 49ers have taken over the division, winning 13 games in 2011 and 11 games with a tie in 2012.
"When you look at these teams in the division, all these teams are similar in a sense," said Edwards. "San Francisco is a little bit ahead of them as is Seattle, but St. Louis and Arizona seem to be closing the door on them."
After a disappointing 2012 season, the Cardinals hired Bruce Arians to replace Ken Whisenhunt at new head coach and traded for Carson Palmer to be the new quarterback.
"Bruce Arians, whom I coached with in Kansas City, likes to run the ball," Edwards said. "He is going to throw the ball down the field, but he likes to pound the football.
"Arizona has a nice front defensively with (Darnell) Dockett, (Dan) Williams, (Calais) Campbell and (Lorenzo) Alexander. They now have some secondary players who can take the ball away and are unique."
Arians begins his first training camp as the coach of the Cardinals this week in Glendale.