Tuesday, September 7, 2010

NFL Predictions Part IV: NFC West

I just couldn't help but post a pic of Glen Coffee, who after a lengthy career with the 49ers totaling 14 games, has retired from football at the old age of 23. So long Coffee, it was a wonderful time. The loss shouldn't be too burdening for the 49ers however, who's schedule this season is the 25th hardest in the league, and who are poised to win the NFC West now that the Cardinals have lost Warner and will be relying on Derek Anderson to throw the ball to Fitzgerald and co. By how much will they win the division? Here's my look at the NFC West.

1. San Francisco 49ers 11-5
2. Arizona Cardinals 7-9
3. Seattle Seahawks 5-11
4. St. Louis Rams 2-14

So maybe the 49ers don't win 11 games, highly possible, I could be overshooting that number by a win or two, but the point is that the 49ers have one of those schedules that might allow them to do it. Now that the Cardinals' offense has taken a huge hit, two extra wins against Arizona are highly possible. San Fran could in fact easily sweep their divisional games, going 6-0 in the NFC West, regardless of matches against other teams. Their defense improved massively last year, one of the top 3 in the NFL, and their offense kept getting better as 2009 moved along. I mean, it still all comes down to whether Alex Smith is ready to become the franchise QB or not, but this is definitely the season for San Fran to make moves. They have to do it now before the Rams start getting better.

I didn't think initially that the loss of Kurt Warner was going to be that bad. Then we all watched Leinart and Anderson in the preseason and we were all thinking "uh-oh". Then the Cards released Leinart just cause he did a little worse than Anderson. Decision made, and fingers crossed. Arizona enters 2010 with a mediocre defense, a good running back scenario, and a great receiving core, but no one who seems ready to take the reigns under center and return the Cardinals to the postseason. Sure they'll probably go about 8-8 or 7-9, but I really think they're gonna have to sit back and watch another team win the NFC West after leading it for the past two years. At least they'll still be better than Seattle and St. Louis.

I'm really intrigued to see what Pete Carroll is going to do with this mess. They finished 5-11 last year and haven't really added anything but have lost their top two wide receivers (Burleson in the offseason and now cutting Houshmandzadeh), and I don't see much of the balance of power in the NFC West shifting towards this Seahawks team. More likely they'll compete at much around the same level and Pete Carroll will have to start building through free agency and the draft over the next few years.

The Rams were just one of those doomed teams last year, going 1-15 and solidifying themselves a number one pick and ridiculously talented defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Oh wait? They didn't draft Suh? Bradford? OK, let's see how that works out. Rather than take Suh, a key building piece for the future, the Rams decided they would rather try to make moves immediately and grab highly touted Sam Bradford who lost part of his last year in college due to injury. It could pay off, who knows, and the Rams may win a few more games this year. Hell, I have them winning two... that's better than last year.

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