Tuesday, August 20, 2013
The Preview: NFC West
First of all, this is going to be very competitive. At the top, two teams that already hate each other: 49ers and Seahawks. Great defenses both, pretty good offenses both. Potential to run the football, both. Mobile quarterbacks both.
In essence, the division comes down to those two teams, so we'll run it down quickly this time. Here are my 2013 West Rankings:
1. Seahawks. They're the most overhyped team in the division, but believe the hype. This defense is really good. Now this is preseason but there was a game the other night between them and Denver at home where the Hawks took a fumble at the goal line and returned it all the way across for a Seahawk touchdown. The Seattle fans went bananas... takeaways. Never count out the Hawks from a game because of their ability to force turnovers. That's a very quick defensive team so you always have to be on your toes against them. I expect the Seahawks to win all 8 games at home, but even 7 would be about right. Russell Wilson, if they LET HIM PLAY will be great for them. I can't say whether they'll be able to overcome Harvin's injury early on, but I would feel confident about it. Ball control is key for Seattle, and I think if they limit their own turnovers they're in great shape. They're also hungry. Top to bottom, I'd consider them the superior team over SF.
2. 49ers. Two key areas where the Niners have an advantage over Seattle: experience at key positions and coaching. Harbaugh is pretty damn good. He took an abysmal team and made them into a super bowl team with most of the same players! As for experience, you're looking at veterans like RB Frank Gore, assuming good health, then LB Patrick Willis and LB Navorro Bowman, among others. Now I mentioned that Seattle is "hungry" but that doesn't mean the Niners just want to coast and play 75% effort this season. All it means is that the Seahawks will have that much more potential, and only by a little. The 49ers are still a very capable football team. Games between SF and SEA are going to be tremendous. The reason I pick the Niners to finish second is primarily due to the predicted wear and tear from the previous year and the prospect of injuries. Crabtree is already out 4-5 months. Willis is nursing a fractured hand but will start Week 1. Chris Culliver is out for the year due to a torn ACL.
3. Rams. The Rams wind up playing some good defense. Good pass rushers like Long and Quinn, but offensively they're missing two of their most productive players. Both RB Steven Jackson and WR Danny Amendola found greener pastures with other teams as FA's. It sounds like the Rams are going to attempt to replace them with middle of the road scraps and rookies. This team has a long way to go to be a playoff team.
4. Cardinals. I don't want to waste any time breaking down these jokers. Point is, their defense *could* be good but it's worthless when you can't put up points yourself. I need not speak more of their offense... Palmer, who they picked up, is washed up. Mendenhall, who I know well from the Steelers, is just waiting to get hurt again. I'm not into it. The Cards might win some games, actually, but they'll need a lot of help i.e. takeaways. In fact, I think their secondary might fall off due to the losses of four players from a year ago.
Coming up... the AFC East Preview!