This division has belonged to the Arizona Cardinals the past couple of seasons but we all knew this day was coming. Kurt Warner decided to hang it up and left the Cardinals without their golden boy. This team still has some talent but now they are missing the main ingredient. Now I don’t want to automatically dethrone this team because what if Matt Leinhart has improved?
He has been learning from one of the best in Kurt Warner and we are going to find out if he has been doing his homework. The team overall is still in pretty good shape. They lost Boldin but are still not lacking in their receiver department. Fitzgerald’s stats may take a hit and affect his fantasy value without Warner pitching to him, but he will still be a solid receiver. This team is hard to predict how the season will pan out because you automatically want to point thumbs down without Kurt Warner, but this team has defied the odds before and can easily do it again. With a solid head coach directing the traffic and a weak division anything is possible. However, I will say this year belongs to someone else.
Yup, the 49ers are back. I really like this team starting with their head coach. Mike Singletary is one tough S.O.B. and I like his old school style. Frank Gore is a strong running back and Singletary is not afraid to run him down your throat. He put up 1,120 yards rushing (1,526 yards from scrimmage) and 13 touchdowns last year. Those are great numbers but look for an even better year in 2010. The 49ers added two big linemen with their first two picks in the draft in Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati. Both of these beasts come in at 6 feet 5 inches. Look for another heavy dose of the run attack in 2010. Crabtree came in last year late but didn’t miss a step and was showing they got their young number one receiver. He only played 11 games but still managed to put up 48 receptions and 625 yards with 2 TDs. That doesn’t look to impressive on paper but remember this is a run-first team and Vernon Davis was stealing most of those receiving TDs. Crabtree has sleeper potential written all over him for a breakout season. Vernon Davis will still be a big part of this offense but don’t expect those big time numbers from last year. After their wishy-washy quarterback situation last year they put all their beans in one pot in Alex Smith. He is a guy who will get the job done, just like this whole team. With the exception of Frank Gore there is not a real super star here but they will all get the job done. That all starts with the leadership and attitude that reflects off of Mike Singletary. I do not see this team taking out the juggernauts in this league but with the weak division, I see them easily taking the NFC West crown.
It’s going to be another long year for St. Louis Rams fans. They got their franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford which is a plus, but he is coming to a team who went 1-15 last year and has more questions than answers. There is one bright side to this team, Steven Jackson. He is one of the few solo running backs who do not have to share time with other running backs. He has the speed and the power you want in a running back. The only thing he lacks is the team around him. The man rushed for 1,416 yards but only punched it in 4 times. This is a man who carries the team on his shoulders and it is time to get this man some help. Throwing Sam Bradford in there will help the passing game but it’s going to take a while for the rookie to get broken in. When Matt Ryan, Mark Sanchez, and Joe Flacco came into the league they had solid teams surrounding them. Poor Bradford is going to be thrown to the wolves with not much help. However, in my eyes this is going to make him grow that much quicker. I am a believer in putting the rookies in and let them get their feet wet. Some talent gets wasted behind the veteran QBs and we never get to see them for years later. Just ask Brady Quinn. Back on topic, expect a handful of wins for this team but they are another draft or two to start hoping for a winning season.
Now keep an eye on the Seattle Seahawks because there is a new man in charge, Pete Carroll. Matt Hasselbeck will be the starter this year but this is his last chance to prove he can still do it. He will have competition in Charlie Whitehurst this year. They have a duo of aging receivers in Houshmandzadeh and Branch, but face competition with Notre Dame star, Golden Tate. Another interesting off season action was the addition of Lendale White and then shortly after, the release of Lendale White. The reasons are somewhat unknown but many think it’s a poor work ethic and the fact that he is facing a 4 game drug suspension this year. Maybe it is Pete Carroll trying to prove a point that no one is going to just coast and stay on this team. This leaves Leon Washington, Justin Forsett, and Julius Jones in the backfield. I’m not too excited with this group but the Seahawks did attempt to help that by drafting Russell Okung in the first round. Named a starter immediately, it is obvious Pete Carroll is not afraid to make some changes. I see improvements in this team with a new coach and new direction but don’t expect this team to make a huge splash in this weak division. At most, I see this team going 8-8 and missing the playoffs again.
I see this being another weak outing for the NFC west. It’s amazing how much of a high powered offense can be affected with the loss of one man in Arizona. Kurt Warner’s absence will be obvious immediately and it’s time to pass the torch to the San Francisco 49ers. I’m excited to see this team and like their style of play. Seattle is always hard to predict but I still don’t quite see this being their year. The St. Louis Rams are going to have another long year but like the Lions, you have nowhere else to go but up once you have hit rock bottom.
- San Francisco 49ers
- Arizona Cardinals
- Seattle Seahawks
- St. Louis Rams
Agree with my prediction? Disagree? You know what to do.