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Week 17 NFC West Update: 49ers Lock Up Playoff Bye, Future Of Division Looks Bright

Week 17, the end of the 2011 NFL regular season, finalized things for the league, including the NFC West. Thanks a victory over the St. Louis Rams, the San Francisco 49ers clinched the number two seed in the NFC and will have a first-round bye. The good thing is that they get a week to rest and prepare. The bad thing is that they will likely play host to the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round, who are playing better football than anyone right now.

For the other game in the division, the Arizona Cardinals defeated the Seattle Seahawks in overtime 23-20. The victory put Arizona in second place in the division at 8-8, and gives fans optimism for 2012 after having started the season 1-6.

While Seattle fell at the end, their 7-9 record is almost as impressive as Arizona's turnaround. They began the season 2-6. Both teams played extremely in the second half of the season.

With the Niners playing well all season and both Arizona and Seattle looking like they could be formidable in 2012, next season look like the division could have itself a contentious season, as all look like they could contend for the division title.

As for the St. Louis Rams, they finish 2-14, will have the number two pick in the upcoming NFL Draft and reportedly will be looking for a new coach and general manager. On the bright side, they still have Sam Bradford, so they definitely have a chance to get back in to the thick of things.

The team blogs' recaps and reactions to the Week 17 contests is after the jump.

49ers Hold Off Late Rams Charge To Clinch No. 2 Seed - Niners Nation
Well, that certainly got crazy in a hurry. The 49ers claimed the number two seed today with a 34-27 victory over the Rams, but it was not without a lot of late drama. The 49ers took a 34-13 lead with 6:32 left in the fourth quarter and seemed ready to cruise to victory. However, the Rams were not ready to go quietly into that good night.

Seahawks Season Ends With Loss to Cardinals, 23-20 - Field Gulls
The Seahawks closed out their 2011 season with a hard-fought, chippy, grind it out overtime loss to the Cardinals today to give themselves a 7-9 record and third-place finish in the NFC West. As Rob Staton tells us, this 7-9 record means the Seahawks will now pick 11th or 12th in the 2012 Draft, pending a Roger Goodell (or someone representing the NFL) coin-toss at the NFL Combine, as the Seahawks end in a dead lock with the Kansas City Chiefs, both in record and strength of schedule.

Arizona Cardinals Win Another Thriller, Beat Seattle Seahawks 23-20 - Revenge of the Birds
And with that, Arizona is 8-8. This caps off an improbable come from behind season. After falling 1-6, many fans thought the season was over. But behind John Skelton, the Cardinals went 6-2. This may just spark a quarterback battle this offseason