By Dave Cuthbertson
(Note: Due to time constraints, I will be unable to preview all 32 NFL teams on a one-by-one basis, but I will continue to give an insight to each team and give them all a final predictions)
Last year, the San Francisco 49ers won the NFC West and left everyone else in the dust. While the runner up, Arizona, finished with 8 wins it is unlikely they will even come close to the performance they had last year because of the uncertainty they have at the quarterback position. However, this is possibly the weakest division in terms of quarterback. Opening day starters:
Alex Smith – SF
??? – Arizona
??? – Seattle
Sam Bradford – StL
In a league where your QB dictates your success, your two locks are Alex Smith who had a breakout year in a memorable game and does not take risks; or an injury prone young Sam Bradford on a team with very little receiving talent. Beyond that, Arizona and Seattle haven’t necessarily committed to anyone. As the saying goes, if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback. It is possible that the Matt Flynn era is off to a shaky start because they saw what happened to an unproven Kevin Kolb.
This division is unlikely to see much of a shakeup. Expect the 49ers to have a similar record, perhaps drop a game. Their biggest weakness last year was their passing game. San Francisco added Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and confidence to Alex Smith. There’s very little to say about the 49ers defense that hasn’t been said – it’s stellar and most teams in the NFL will not be able to get past Patrick Willis. Keep in mind they quietly drafted LaMichael James out of Oregon who is perfect for this system and will help Frank Gore.
Arizona added the dynamic Michael Floyd who will play with Larry Fitzgerald. That combination has the potential to be one of the best in the league, but they remain average everywhere else. If a team makes a surprise run in this division it will be Arizona.
The Seahawks have far too much uncertainty and whether Matt Flynn or Russell Wilson starts for them. Outside of that, the Seahawks quietly have a very good team. Rookie Bruce Irvin will provide a nice spark for the defense and will only be called upon for what he is best at – mostly third down defensive sets. Marshawn Lynch is still a very formidable running back in the NFL and regardless of who ends up as their QB, it’s likely that debating between Flynn/Wilson is a much better debate than T-Jax/Whitehurst
The Rams are going to be largely irrelevant in this division and the NFL yet again but trading away the rights to RGIII was possibly the greatest move they could make. Their extra first round picks are going to be what they need over the next few years as they rebuild.
- By Dave Cuthbertson. Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveSportsGuru