|The San Francisco Frank Gores are the NFC West front runners, by default.|
Today, we begin an 8-day division-by-division look at the NFL, culminating with the Sports Casual Fantasy Football League draft on Sunday afternoon. The NFL season begins in just 19 days, and with uncertainty regarding the future of the league, I'll be sure to enjoy this season as much as I can.
We'll start west and work our way east, beginning with what has emerged as the perennial joke of the NFL: the NFC west.
4. St. Louis Rams - It's easy to forget that the Rams were Super Bowl Champions in 1999 (and Super Bowl favorites less than a decade ago in 2001). The Rams, once playoff regulars, are now good for only 1 or 2 wins a season. But they're starting to rebuild, albeit slowly. Don't expect Sam Bradford to work any miracles. He'll be OK, but he'll get get beaten up in typical rookie-starter fashion. Don't be surprised to see A.J. Feeley starting by week 14.
3. Seattle Seahawks - Like the Rams, the Seahawks fell from championship contenders to an NFC laughingstock. Seattle's downfall, though less extreme, happened much more quickly. The Seahawks won the division in 2004, 2005 (when they lost in the Super Bowl), 2006, and 2007, but finished with only 4 wins in 2008 and 5 wins last year. I want them to be better, I think they should be better, but don't expect any miracles to come from Pete Carroll. The former USC coach left his gig as a college rock star to give the NFL another try. His career NFL record is a decent but unimpressive 33-31, and he'll be under an incredible amount of pressure in his first season in Seattle.
2. Arizona Cardinals - The Cardinals won the division in 2008, when they made an impressive Super Bowl trip, and then won the West again in 2009. They would be the favorites to win the division again, but they might've had the worst offseason of any team in the NFL. Pro-Bowl WR Anquan Boldin went to the Ravens, LB Karlos Dansby signed with the Dolphins, and safety Antrel Rolle left for the Giants. Oh, and QB Kurt Warner called it quits after 12 NFL seasons. The Cardinals will be alright, but they can't win the division without Warner at the helm.
1. San Francisco 49ers - The 49ers are your NFC West champions, by process of elimination. They sure don't have their QB situation figured out, but with Alex Smith, David Carr, and Nate Davis, someone will start. Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, and Patrick Willis will be the guys to carry the team. The 49ers didn't improve much during the offseason, but they didn't lose their core. Look for them to be 9-7 division champions.