Well, I know you have been waiting on it, so here it is!
My preview of the NFL, Division by Division. We’re going to start with the NFC West.
The Arizona Cardinals will be a team that will definitely be down this year. Kurt Warner retired, Carlos Dansby Left for the weather in Miami and Anquan Boldin left via trade for the Baltimore Ravens. The Cardinals still have offensive talent without Warner and Boldin with Larry Fitzgerald and Beanie Wells still being there, but there is uncertainty at the quarterback position. Do you go with Matt Leinhart, a first round bust who has yet to show anything, or do you go with Derek Anderson, a guy who had one good year and then forgot how to play quarterback the rest of his time in the league. Their offense from the outside looking in looks like a nice sports car with a jacked up engine. Until they solve the quarterback issue, the offense will struggle.
On defense, the Cardinals have a playmaker on the defensive line in Darnell Dockett and a playmaker at safety in ultra-talented Adrian Wilson, but the main cog that made that defense go, Carlos Dansby, has left the team. The two questions for this defense are:
1) Who is going to replace the production and leadership of Carlos Dansby?
2) Who is going to play the corner beside All-Pro Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie?
In the kicking game, Neil Rackers needs to have a flashback to a couple years ago and not a repeat to a dreadful year of kicking that he had last year.
Saint Louis Rams
There are all kind of problems with this team. Let’s start with the offense. Stephen Jackson is a horse, but he needs some other playmakers around him. Donnie Avery is the best that St. Louis can put out there at receiver and he would be a good number 3, but not a number 1 on a good team. Other than Avery, I can’t think of any other receiver on the Rams’ team that any team would have to gameplan for. Sam Bradford is going to have a long year, if he can even stay healthy.
On defense, I cannot think of one playmaker that they may have. James Lauranitis maybe? Chris Long can’t be considered a playmaker because I haven’t heard his name called since he got drafted. That’s enough time wasted on the Rams’ defense.
Finally, whoever they decide on to kick field goals may be busy because I don’t see many touchdowns happening in the Lou this year.
San Francisco 49ers
This team is by far the toughest team in the division. Coach Mike Singletary won’t settle for less than than. On offense, you have weapons like Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis and u sprinkle in some Ted Ginn as well. The key to this season for the 49ers on offense is Alex Smith. The team will be effective running the football, but for them to take the next step as an offense, Smith will need to step up or get ready to step out after this year.
On defense, the 49ers will continue to play a tough, physical brand of defense led by Patrick Willis. This unit still has room to grow in pass coverage, as Nate Clements get worse by the day. Their success depends on the success of the offense. If the offense has a lot of 3-and-outs, then this will be a long season for the 49ers on defense.
On special teams, Ted Ginn should be electric here. Look for big plays in the return game. There is the possibility that there could be a lot of field goals again though.
There isn’t really much to say about this team this year. On offense, this may be Matt Hasselbeck’s last time around as he has struggled with injuries and inconsistencies the last couple of years. In the backfield, there is also a conundrum as to who is the running back. I’m scared to say that it could be Julius Jones starting(YIKES). And at receiver, there is T.J. Housmanzadeh and then a bunch of injured guys( see Deon Branch) and rookies(see Golden Tate). This could (a long season on offense.
On defense, the Seahawks still have Leroy Hill, Aaron Curry and Patrick Kierney. I know that trio doesn’t sound great, but hopefully they will do something for them because they are the playmakers on this team.
On special teams, I look forward to Chris Berman and his referenses to Olindo Mare again. Other than that, nothing else to say here.
Division Winner: San Francisco 49ers
Best Rookie: Golden Tate
Division MVP: Patrick Willis
In the end, this division is the 49ers division to win or lose.