NFL season win totals opened back in May and we've already seen some
considerable line movement. Some ships
have sailed and aren't coming back (BUF 7, CHI 8.5), but there is still more
than enough value to be had.
After updating our offseason power rankings and customizing a new strength of schedule for 2012, here are
three season win totals in the NFC that you'll want to consider.
San Francisco 49ers
2012 Offseason: San Francisco
immediately went out and addressed their problems in the passing game. Randy Moss and Mario Manningham have been added to open up the offense (though Moss might be nothing
more than window dressing). They also took A.J. Jenkins in round 1--with mixed
Colin Kaepernick has a year of clipboard development under his belt and will
continue to push for playing time. Smith seems safe for now, but for how
long? Josh Johnson has an interesting
link with Harbaugh from college, too. Just sayin.'
They also brought in Brandon Jacobs and Rock Cartwright to beef up the
running game. I can't say I'm a fan of the former, but we'll see how it shakes
On defense, there is quite a bit of continuity and not much significant
change to note.
Looking ahead: Depending on how
you see things, one could make a fair argument to either ride or fade San Fran
in 2012. Usually a team that struggles in key areas and thrives in the hidden
stats doesn't have much go right the following year. At the same time,
well-coached teams that take care of the supplemental categories can make it
part of their personality going forward (the Bears are a good example of this).
NFL odds makers threw up a generic '10' on the board for their season win
total, but no one has taken the bait. What would happen if Kaepernick takes over
at some point this year? No one knows, but I'm not sure there would be as much of an adjustment as people might think.
In 2011, they ranked near the bottom in passing, red zone/third down
offense, and points from long drives. I
don't think they've improved enough to reach 11 wins. There was a lot of talk about how good their
defense was, but their pass defense and defensive line were below average. I don't think they get the same fortune in
the turnover differential and special teams categories in 2012.
St Louis Rams OVER
2012 Offseason: There is so much
to like about what St. Louis did this offseason, and it starts with the head
coach. Jeff Fisher brings instant
credibility to a team that desperately needs a rock at the center of the
Luring Finnegan from the Titans was a big coup. Grabbing Scott Wells
to play center is another solid move. Who knows if Steve Smith will pay off, but he can't be any worse than
what they had last year, can he?
In the 2nd round, St Louis drafted Isaiah Pead to serve as a
counter-punch for SJ. Who knows how many touches Jackson has left, so targeting
that position is essential. They also grabbed a WR in Brian Quick in round 2.
On defense, the Gregg Williams suspension couldn't have come at a
worse time. Strangely, there isn't a clear-cut replacement for him. The good
news is, that the personnel on the field should be improved, especially with Finnegan
and Janoris Jenkins at corner.
They will likely rely a lot on 1st rounder Michael Brockers at DT.
There will be growing pains, but fresh blood is always better than fading
veterans when a rebuild is in motion. In fact, the D-line could become a
strength if they can stay healthy.
Not surprisingly, St Louis might start the year with a rookie kicker.
No pressure, kid!
Looking ahead: I'm tempted to
copy and paste my outlook for St Louis from 2011 and update the names, but this
is a much more in-your-face rebuild this time around.
Their season win total opened at 6, and it remains there at the time of
this writing. In a division like this, a quick turnaround isn't out of the
question. With a much softer schedule
this year compared to last, across the board health, and rock-solid offseason, I
think this is a team that can win 7 games and maybe even challenge for the
2012 Offseason: The good news for
Philly is that they are stocked and loaded for another kick at the can, and
odds makers have made them division favorites.
They re-signed most of their key guys and parted ways with Parker, J. Jackson, Justice, and Samuel, and S. Smith. From this group Samuel was the
biggest loss, but they wanted to get Rogres-Cromartie on the field full-time as
a regular corner. Boykin was another steal in round 4 and should challenge for
time in the slot.
They acquired DeMeco Ryans for a necessary upgrade at linebacker and
will back up what I think will be the best defensive line in the NFL. Fletcher Cox was a huge steal in the draft
and will join the likes of Jenkins, Babin, Cole and Patterson. Questions linger at safety where Coleman,
Jarrett, and Atogwe will battle for snaps. Nate Allen is also expected to step
On offense, you have game-breakers all over the place. The concern is
at left tackle with Peters going down with a freak offseason injury. Guys like Peters don't grow on trees and, when your top priority as an organizatio is to keep
Vick healthy, that's not the position you want to lose. Grabbing Demestress
Bell was a good stop-gap, but it's still a worry.
Looking ahead: Most of the season
will not only rely on Vick's health but also his progression. He hasn't really
regained his elite level of play going back to late 2010. Can he cut down on
the careless mistakes? Fumbles and interceptions could be an issue. They also have to get DeSean Jackson back to
his dominating self. Over the last year
or so, he has either been hurt or worrying about his money. Now he got paid--will it help or hurt?
The season win total started at 10, and there is trending juice on the
over. It would be hard to pass up on
that. It's a well-run franchise with a
lot of continuity at all the right places. Last year Vick couldn't afford to get away with mistakes, but this year
he can. The defense is that good.
Along with Houston,
Philadelphia hs the potential to be among the most balanced teams in the NFL.