The NFC West seems to be the least intriguing and most predictable division to forecast. Mike Singletary’s 49ers are prime to take over Arizona’s reign atop the standings. It would be the first time in doing so since 2002. San Francisco certainly should accomplish this feat, likely being crowned best as soon as early November.
As for Arizona, Seattle, and St. Louis they may be better off served hitting the fast forward button on their remotes, seeking the opportunity to take an early sneak peek ahead toward New York City’s Radio City Music Hall come mid-April. Call it what you want but call it, this division could be over before it even gets started.
San Francisco (12-4) – Can you name any other team that’s more sure of a lock to wrap up their division before Thanksgiving? Could this be the most anticipated season since the Steve Mariucci Era? Things are looking up for the Bay Area fans, and deservedly so, seeing the expectations are as high as they’ve ever been in almost a decade. And why not, considering S.F. has the top LB, a feisty leader and excellent example calling the shots, and one of the most electrifying trios on the offensive side of the rock, you can only wonder and ask yourself, “Could this be “the year”?”
What’s not to like? They upgraded an average offensive line via draft, Alex Smith looks the part, and they participate in possibly the weakest division. Niners faithful may even become hard-pressed to find a ticket entering winter at Candlestick! Things are definitely looking up.
Arizona (5-11) – The post-Kurt Warner days begin, insert Matt Leinart -stay tuned. With the retirement of Warner, you can clearly see why more questions than answers arise approaching camp. Yet the main cause for concern could translate over into a balanced offensive attack, a new change of identity for Ken Whisenhunt’s group. Chris “Beanie” Wells and Tim Hightower lead the ground gang and will likely be seeing more opportunities to make their presence known and stamp their impact on a Leinart-led offense. Larry Fitzgerald still remains, however, he will be without his exclusive partner in crime Anquan Boldin. Could we see trouble generating points in the Desert? Finding the end zone could be the equivalent to finding a diamond in the rough for a squad two years removed from representing the NFC.
So if that proves true, the defense, already minus Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle, may be under a tremendous amount of pressure to help balance out the team’s fortunes and success. In essence, I’m unsure if they are fully prepared and quite ready yet to embrace the challenge which is set and presented before them. And who knows if they’ll be able to take on the treacherous task of stepping outside new boundaries with such short notice. Fully grasp yourselves for change, albeit a sad one, Cardinals fans.
Seattle (5-11) – Good news: It’s all possible Justin Forsett could have himself a Ray Rice type of season. Bad news: When Justin Forsett is your most reliable weapon on offense you’re in bad shape. While you’re at it, don’t bank on the good news coming to fruition, its just a possibility. It just seems like a rebuilding year is inevitable for the proud supporters of the team with the most eccentric uniforms. Undoubtedly the 12th man will still be on display, yet nonetheless, it begs to question: Will Pete Carroll give the fans a product worthy of cheer?
Matt Hasselbeck is always hurt and has seen better days, constant whispers and rumors of the mega-hyped Terrell Owens bug the team and surround the organization, and Charlie Whitehurst is being looked at as the heir apparent at QB. Not good news for a franchise that used to be a guaranteed lock come fall for NFC West dominance. Supremacy has past, the new era for mediocrity has just begun. Why won’t it be a rebuilding year in Seattle?
St. Louis (2-14) – Once upon a time they were considered one of the most dynamic and entertaining teams to watch. The darlings of football, a team anyone would love to see on TV -the casual fan, the kids, the wives. Who wouldn’t want to witness “The Greatest Show On Turf”? Ponder that era of aerial excitement and scintillating sensational fireworks for just a split-second, and then return to earth, back to reality. You know its another down year for the Rams when everyone and their brother is fretting about whether or not to draft Steven Jackson because of the team he’s suits up for on Sunday. One moment he’s the second coming of Eric Dickerson, the next moment he’s the remix of Ricky Williams because of the unreliability factor. It’s not good when Jackson is the player whom the Rams count on and come to expect big things from, week in and week out.
If Spagnuolo and staff can’t rely on their so-called superstar and face of the franchise, then who can they rely on? Rookie 1st overall pick Sam Bradford? QB, yet another position where you don’t know what will happen and what to expect. Defensively, a slew of holes are clearly evident, and you can be sure a plethora of points will be allowed. An abundance of more reasons can be produced to why this team will be once again owners of the #1 selection in next year’s draft -and that’s the one thing you can expect from this team chalk-full of non-expectancies.