|08-14-2007, 01:19 PM||#1|
Join Date: May 2005
Location: washington, D.C.
12ths, 2007 NFC West Predictions
If the NFC West were a beauty peagent, the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals would be finalists every year under the category for "Most Sexy." It seems that from one year to the next, experts drool over one of these teams, and invariably predict a playoff berth prior to opening day. While I'll concede that both teams have no doubt improved during the offseason, you never can count out the Seattle Seahawks. Afterall they were NFC champs and appeared in the Super Bowl champs just a couple of years ago. But like the NFC East and the NFC North (except da Bears), you probably could flip a coin and predict who's going to win this division and make a playoff push.
On a whole, this could very well be the most mediocre division in the NFC. Top to bottom, however, I think the NFC West probably has the most elite group of running backs and wide receivers in all of football.
San Francisco 49ers: 9-7 I'm not picking the 49ers to win the division because I think they're actually better than the Seahawks, I'm just pissed with Seattle for stealing my 12thMan moniker!
The 49ers are one of the youngest teams in the NFL, finished the season strong, and made significant additions via free agceny and the draft. Without gettitng into every single name, CB Nate Clements, the highest paid defensive player in the history of the game, was the most notable acquisition. Clements will pair up with none other than CB Walt Harris, who held it down quite well last year with 8 interceptions. Rookie linebacker Patrick Willis (Ole Miss) will make an immediate impact, which should help shore up the defense.
On offense the 49ers have a few Pro-Bowlers. Running back Frank Gore rushed for nearly 1,700 yds and will line up behind, perhaps, one of the best offensive lines in the NFC. The 49ers have big plans to make second year TE Vernon Davis, a former Terp, a big part of their offense this year. In 2006 Davis missed several games with a fractured fibula, but showed flashes of brilliance once he got comfortable with the offense.
One of the question marks on offense is at wide reciever. Since the team decided to release Antonio Bryant, someone has to step up and establish themselves as the go to guy. Everything, however, hinges on the continued development of quarterback Alex Smith. Smith made good strides last year, but now that offensive coordinator Norv Turner has departed for San Diego, the jury is out as to how much, if at all, Smith's development will be affected.
In the end, I think a combination of playing in a weak division along with some very generous upgrades, may land San Francisco a long awaited playoff berth. Yes, most sexy is long overdue.
Key Losses: DT Anthony Adams, WR Antonio Bryant
Key Additions: CB Nate Clemmons, WR Darrell Jackson, S Michael Lewis, WR Ashley Lelie, Mike Nolan's new wardrobe
Seattle Seahawks: 8-8 The Seahawks stumbled last year after making a Super Bowl appearance in 2005, and they return most of it's key players from last year. But the window could be closing on Mike Holmgren's team. For some reason, and this could just be me, they don't seem like a team of repeat caliber. Sure quarterback Matt Hasselback and All-Pro running back Shawn Alexander will return, but if either of them get knicked up like last year, the Seahawks tend to be a very average team.
The defense will probably be reliable and good most of the season. And they've added DE Patrick Kerney, who should definitely help out. But again, the knock on him is can he stay healthy for an entire season to make a difference.
It's not that Seattle is that bad or isn't a good team, it's that all the other teams around them are starting to get better. You can only stave off the competition for so long.
Key Additions: TE Marcus Pollard, DE Patrick Kerney
Key Losses: TE Jeremy Stevens, WR Darrell Jackson, C Robbie Tobeck
St. Louis Rams: 7-9 The Rams aren't exactly the greatest show on turf anymore, but they still boast one of the most potent aerial attacks in the NFL. Quarterback Mark Bulger, who recently signed a $65 million contract, has very quietly established himself as a Pro-Bowl quarterback and figures to have another productive year with the weapons around him. But make no mistake the Rams offense lives and dies with RB Steven Jackson. I really donít have enough space here to dedicate to Jackson alone, but in short there wasn't a running back in all of football more productive than Steven Jackson last season; not LT, not Reggie Bush, not Larry Johnson. Steven Jackson led all NFL running backs in yards from scrimmage with 2,334 yards and tacked on 90 receptions. Draft pick Brian Leonard from Rutgers will provide a nice change of pace opposite Jackson, adding yet more versatility to the Rams offense.
On defense the Rams finished 31st agaisnt the run, and were in dire need of help. They got their man with DE Adam Carriker from Nebraska. Carriker will make the switch from DE to DT and pair up with pass rusher Leonard Little. Word coming out of St. Louis already is that Carriker has made the switch well, and is looking like a beast. Keep an eye out for this kid as the season progresses.
The addition of Dante Hall may add a spark or two on special teams, but with a youth movement underway on defense and the wide receivers starting to show some age, the Rams may have to add a few more pieces to the puzzle in Scott Linehan's second year.
Key Additions: PR Dante Hall, WR Drew Bennett, TE Randy McMichael
Key Losses: WRs Shaun McDonald and Kevin Curtis, CB Travis Fisher, LB Dexter Coakley
Arizona Cardinals: 5-11 Wanna get away? That should be the theme in Arizona if you've ever been a head coach there. The Cardinals have gone through 7 head coaches in the last 19 years, so change seems to be the only constant for this team. That being said, Ken Whisenhunt is now on deck and could be just what the doctor ordered. He brings along with him the very capable Russ Grimm to whip the offensive line into shape and inject a sense identity into the team similiar to that of the Steelers.
On the offensive side of the ball, Arizona has the budding Matt Leinert at QB. With their first pick in the draft, they added offensive tackle Levi Brown to protect their investment at quarterback. Brown will be a starter on opening day, and many believe the recently departed Leonard Davis won't be missed - not even a little bit. The Cardinals also have one of the best receiving duos in the NFL; Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Look for Edgerin James to be back to form now that Grimm is in the fold.
But just like the Rams, the Cards are usually banged up at key positions on defense or they're horribly inconsistent. Safety Adrian Wilson, a rising star, is pretty much the face of the defense. DE Betrand Berry, when healthy, can be a force rushing off the edges, who will line up beside rookie DT Alan Branch. If Branch can acclimate to the NFL work regimen, he might be a steal in the second round.
In a nutshell, Arizona did themselves good in the draft, and didn't lose anyone of note. Now that Whisenhunt is on board don't look for any more meltdowns like the one on Monday against the Chicago Bears last year. This year I think they'll finish last in the division, but they'll upset some good teams along the way.
Key Additions: HC Ken Whisenhunt, OC Russ Grimm, T Mike Gandy
Key Losses: LT Leonard Davis, C Alex Stepanovich
|08-14-2007, 08:13 PM||#2|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bluffton, South Carolina
Re: 12ths, 2007 NFC West Predictions
With the exception of a few minor details I completely agree.
|08-15-2007, 07:57 AM||#5|
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: 129 W 81st street
Re: 12ths, 2007 NFC West Predictions
Did anybody watch the 49ers game on Monday? The mentioned twice how Taylor Jacobs was having a GREAT camp and should have a huge year. lol