The NFC West
was dominated last season by the San Francisco 49'ers but will they get stiffer
competition this season? Let's find out.
San Francisco 49'ers (-250)
Last season there was no other team in
the NFL better at stopping the run. The
Niners allowed an average of 77.3 yards per game and it's a major part of what
propelled them to such lofty heights last season, an overtime loss away from a
Super Bowl appearance.
The 49'ers are unquestionably the team
to beat in the West and some would say in the NFC. Their defense is rugged but their air force
was grounded throughout much of the season.
San Francisco ranked 29th in passing yards but 8th
in rushing. They appear to have the
ground game covered on both sides of the ball but need to elevate the passing
Alex Smith played steady though
unspectacular ball which is not a criticism but simply an observation. He did not have a plethora of targets and
handing off to Frank Gore is always an excellent option. This season the Niners have targets for Smith
in the form of Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and 1st round draft pick
A.J. Jenkins out of Illinois. They also
added Brandon Jacobs to a fine stable of backups to Gore.
The defense is intact from last
season, the offense projects to be upgraded and this team should be better than
last season's edition. They have a tough
schedule no doubt but aside from the Cardinals, who won 5 of 6 down the stretch
last season including a 21-19 victory over San Francisco, they should breeze to
the division championship and a shot at a Super Bowl appearance.
Arizona Cardinals (+750)
As stated above, the Cardinals were
positively smoking throughout the second half of the season winning 5 of their
last 6 and seven of their last nine. If
it wasn't for a putrid start to the season, the Cardinals would have been in
postseason contention. The big question
is who is under center this season. The
Cards have a lot of dough invested in Kevin Kolb but it was John "Don't
call me Red" Skelton who led the team to second half heroics. In all fairness to Kolb he did get beat up
last season and injuries certainly played a part in his generally poor
performance. But now the team has added
another threat besides Larry Fitzgerald and his name is Michael Floyd, the 13th
overall pick in the draft and a man who set records at Notre Dame. Also factor in 2nd round pick from
2011 Ryan Williams who never played a regular season down last year due to a
knee injury in a preseason game against the Packers.
The defense didn't have tremendous
stats but they should get better this season.
They have a decent pass rush and a secondary that includes two upper
echelon defenders in Adrian Wilson and Patrick
Peterson. All that being said, they may
compete for a Wild Card but they won't catch the Niners. Not this year.
Seattle Seahawks (+450)
Green Bay backup Matt Flynn got a
bunch of money from Seattle and they hope the gaudy numbers he hung when
filling in for Rodgers translates into prodigious stats now that he has the
chance to start. He's got Sydney Rice
and Mike Williams to target but Golden Tate will need to put up or ship out
this season as he has underwhelmed since being selected in the 2nd
round of the 2010 draft.
Seattle has some nice players in the
secondary but will need to bring the heat from the defensive line. That is a big question mark and one that won't
be answered until they play the games for real.
I'm more of a believer in the Cardinals than this band of Seahawks.
St. Louis Rams (+935)
The Rams stunk last season and they
will probably stink again this season just not quite as bad. You know the Rams' brass has faith in Sam
Bradford as they traded away the pick that would have reaped one of the two big
prizes in this year's draft RG3. They hoarded
draft picks and that's what a team that is 2-14 needs to do, stockpile for the
The offense will have another weapon
in Brian Quick and the defense has been upgraded as well. Factor in a motivated head coach with a
proven track record in Jeff Fisher and this is a team that looks like it will
double the number of victories from last season. Yeah, four wins big deal...but it's better