2010 NFL Preview: NFC West

2009: Arizona Cardinals, 10-6
2008: Arizona Cardinals, 9-7
2007: Seattle Seahawks, 10-6
2006: Seattle Seahawks, 9-7
2005: Seattle Seahawks, 13-3
2004: Seattle Seahawks, 9-7
2003: St. Louis Rams, 12-4
2002: San Francisco 49ers, 10-6

This has been the worst division in football since realignment. Only two times were more then 10 wins neccessary to win the divison. Seattle was the best of the worst for the middle part of the decade, winding up in one Super Bowl. Arizona had great playoff success in 2008 of course, ending up minutes away from being Super Bowl champions. We all remember the beginning of the decade, when the St. Louis Rams were supposed to be the next big dynasty. That never happened and they have been just awful the last few years. The once
proud Niners haven't had a winning record since their 2002 division title.

1. San Francisco 49ers, 10-6. The 49ers finally appear to be poised to take over this division and return to the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade. Their drafting has been the key, as smart picks have given the offense star power all over. Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Joe Staley were all first round draft picks. So was Alex Smith, who has risen from the dead to become the starting quarterback for this team again. If he can be even decent, the Niners offense should be explosive. On defense, the draft has helped there as well. First round pick Patrick Willis is the best middle linebacker in the league, racking up tackles at an amazing rate. Manny Lawson has taken a while to find his legs but should really come on this year. The defense only allowed 14 points per game last season, taking on the intensity of head coach Mike Singletary. Unless major injuries strike or one of the three other teams does something unexpected, the Niners should have this division. And don't be surprised if they have a 2008 Cardinals-like run in the playoffs.

2. Arizona Cardinals, 7-9. Remember what I said about Ted Ginn to Brandon Marshall being the biggest position upgrade in the offseason? Well, Kurt Warner to Matt Leinart (I guess now Derek Anderson) is the biggest downgrade. I had the Cardinals at this record before Leinart's continued struggles. The Cardinals have just lost too much, and it's not like they were a 12-4 team previously. You don't lose Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby and more and not suffer big time. The Cardinals will hope to rely on Beanie Wells and the running game and a defense that was the middle of the pack before allowing a staggering 90 points in two playoff games. The defense will actually be what carries the Cardinals in 2010. They added Joey Porter and Dan Williams to a solid core, especially on the defensive line, with great 3-4 ends Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell. But with the losses on offense I can't see another winning record.

3. Seattle Seahawks, 5-11. The Seahawks seem to have trouble accepting that they need to flat out rebuild. Signing TJ Houshmanzadeh and holding on to Matt Hasselbeck didn't do anything for them, as they finished with another losing record. They will roll the dice with Hasselbeck one more year, and I can't see a much better finish. They have holes all over the place, and a solid draft won't fix that. On offense they are extremely vanilla. Led by a trio of mediocre running backs and a group of uninspiring wide receivers, do not expect them to improve much on that 21st ranked overall offense. The defense also finished in the 20's, and they did not add any pass rushing or run stopping defensive lineman. Earl Thomas will help, but he's only a safety. Marcus Trufant continues to disappoint and miss games with injury. The one bright spot on this Seattle team is the linebacking group. The trio of Leroy Hill, Aaron Curry and Lofa Tatupu could be a very good group if they can stay healthy at the same time. They did not play a single game together last year. Pete Carroll might only be an average coach, but he left USC right before the storm hit. He has his work cut out for him here, as the Seahawks have a staggering lack of talent at many key positions.

4. St. Louis Rams, 3-13. The Rams have been the most pathetic franchise this side of Detroit the last few years. If you add up their win total during the past three years, they would still have 10 losses. Ouch. It has been a mighty fall from grace for the Greatest Show on Turf. First, the good. They have a workhorse back who has continued to produce despite having nothing around him. Steven Jackson somehow managed to turn out 1400 yards and a 4.4 yards per carry average. He only had 4 rushing touchdowns but you can't fault him for that. The Rams finally said goodbye to Marc Bulger and drafted the future face of the franchise (hopefully) in Sam Bradford. He has his share of critics, but has the arm strength and poise to be successful. If he can survive the beating he will take all year with the Rams he should be a good one. There isn't much more to talk about on this team, both on offense and defense. They have picked in the top 2 in the last three years. Chris Long has 9 sacks in his first two years, but finally started to show some life late in the season. Jason Smith did not show much in an injury shortened season.

Jonathan Carrano

Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.

No comments: