In this segment I am going to preview every team in the NFL, division by division, and predict their level of success throughout the season. I will begin with the NFC West and over the next several days work my way to the AFC East.
1. San Francisco 49ers (10-6)
(Notable games: Week 2 – September 20th vs. New Orleans, Week 4 – October 3rd at Atlanta, Week 5 – October 10th vs. Philadelphia, Week 13 – December 5th at Green Bay, Week 15 – December 16th at San Diego)
Mike Singletary seems to have his 49ers primed and ready for a good season. The team finished a respectable 8-8 last season and looks to build upon the success that they have had under coach Singletary. According to multiple reports, Alex Smith is having a good preseason and hopes to fulfill some of the promise that he showed at Utah, which led to him being the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Michael Crabtree hopes to elevate his play with an entire NFL off season under his belt, while the addition of Ted Ginn Jr. hopes to open up some throwing lanes for Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and Josh Morgan. Frank Gore, if healthy, is a stud at running back, and will benefit from two rookie additions on the offensive line, right tackle Anthony Davis and left guard Mike Iupati. Patrick Willis leads a defense that looks to be one of the best units in the league. Manny Lawson’s ability to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks will be a big factor in how dominate the 49ers defense is. I expect the 49ers to easily win one of the worst divisions in football, and maybe sneak out of the first round of the playoffs.
2. Seattle Seahawks (7-9)
(Notable games: Week 1 – September 12th vs. San Francisco, Week 3 – September 26th vs. San Diego, Week 9 – November 7th vs. New York Giants, Week 11 – November 21st at New Orleans, Week 14 – December 12th at San Francisco)
Pete Carroll scares me, plain and simple. It’s not like he’s new to this whole thing. Carroll has coached in the league before, and hadn’t had much success doing it. That being said, he has basically come in to Seattle and built this team the way that he wanted to. The additions of Leon Washington, Golden Tate, a rejuvenated Mike Williams, and Russell Okung actually provide some spark to this previously indolent offense. Combine that with one of the better young linebacking corps in the NFL, and I think that the Seahawks might surprise some people. I expect the Seahawks to edge out the Cardinals for second place in the division, but their season ends there.
3. Arizona Cardinals (6-10)
(Notable games: Week 2 – September 19th at Atlanta, Week 4 – October 3rd at San Diego, Week 5 – October 10th vs. New Orleans, Week 12 – November 29th vs. San Francisco, Week 16 – December 25th vs. Dallas, Week 17 – January 2nd at San Francisco)
Matt Leinart got yanked from his starting spot before he even had a chance to prove whether or not he deserved to be there. Derek Anderson is obviously the answer than Ken Whisenhunt and his staff has been looking for to lead them to the Super Bowl. Let’s be serious for a minute here Arizona, Kurt Warner, as much as I think he was overrated throughout his career, was the sole reason that your team had success over the last few seasons. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin loved having Warner around because of his ability to throw the ball 55 times a game. Since Warner’s departure, Leinart (former 10th overall pick in 2006) was expected to step in and live up to his potential. So far, it isn’t looking that good. Their running game isn’t good enough to carry the offensive load, and their defense took a huge hit with the loss of Karlos Dansby. I expect the Cardinals to get back to their losing ways in 2010, and wind up on the bottom half in arguably the worst division in the NFL.
4. St. Louis Rams (4-12)
(Notable games: Week 10 – November 14th at San Francisco, Week 11- November 21st vs. Atlanta, Week 14 – December 12th at New Orleans, Week 16 – December 26th vs. San Francisco)
The Rams have a pretty easy schedule leading up to their week 10 showdown with the 49ers, which will certainly assist them in with improving upon their record from last season. Maybe it’s because I think highly of the 2010 New England Patriots’ defense, but Sam Bradford looked really good in the Rams’ preseason game against the Pats. He was going through his progressions, fitting the ball into some tight spots, and checking down when necessary; the things that rookie quarterbacks normally struggle with. No, I’m not saying that Sam Bradford should be inducted into the Hall of Fame right now, but he didn’t look that bad. I really feel for Steven Jackson. The poor guy runs like his hair is on fire every single time he touched the ball, and often when his team is down big. That takes heart. I wish the Pats could get a running back like that. The Avery injury hurts an already questionable receiving corps, so Bradford and Jackson’s supporting cast isn’t really ready for a 6 or 7 win season. Their defense is okay, Chris Long looks like he is finally ready to contribute which is nice. But, I don’t think that the Rams can muster up the testicular fortitude to win more than four games this season.
Filed under: NFL