Oh how far the NFC West has come. Two seasons ago the NFC West division was the laughing stock of the NFL. ESPN’s Primetime would poke fun at the division by calling it “Westbound and Down,” and rightfully so. In the 2010 NFL season, the Seattle Seahawks were crowned division champions with a 7-9 regular season record. It was the first time a division was won by a team with a losing record, quite embarrassing. Times do change though and last season the San Francisco 49ers took the division with a 13-3 regular season record. The Niners got off to a fast start, but the success was downed played because the Niners played in a weak division. As the season progress, it was apparent that the division was not as feeble as some thought it to be. The Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals were playing outstanding football around the mid way point of the season and on. Towards the end of the season the division was not known as “Westbound and Down,” but “Westbound and Up.” As much as I do not want to admit it, the division will continue to improve and the Niners will not find themselves cruising to a division title as they did last season. Here is why.
The Seahawks were truly making strides towards the end of the season. Their defense had improved and RB Marshawn Lynch was as advertise, a beast. He was the only running back to rush for over 100 yards against the Niners and was the first to score a rushing touchdown, which occurred in week 16!Seahawks were very smart in resigning Lynch to a long term deal.
Another factor to be aware of is that the Seahawks have a good deal of money to spend. It is likely they will sign a sought out free agent/agents. Luckily, it will not be quarterback Peyton Manning. Sources have indicated that the Seahawks are out of the Manning sweepstakes. Still if the Seahawks draft well and sign key free agents, they will be contenders next season
First it was Kurt Warner leading the Cards to a Super Bowl berth, now it might potentially be Peyton Manning. The Cards are one of the teams that Manning has in his wish lists of destinations. Current Cardinal Darnell Docket has been busy on Twitter trying to lobby for Peyton to play in Arizona. Superstar Larry Fitzgerald is also hoping to catch touchdowns from a future hall a famer; then again it would not be the first time.
There is no question the Cards will be dangerous with Manning as their quarterback, but can the defense do their part. The defense was inconsistent for the Cards last season. At times they played fantastic and other times they played poor. Then again when Manning gives you a two touchdown lead, it makes it easier to play defense when you know the other team is going to be passing. Do not forget about the special teams, cornerback/returner Patrick Peterson is as electrifying as Devin Hester. The Cards could be a scary team, IF they get Manning.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams have had it tough recently. The team has talent, the problem is that those talented players cannot seem to stay healthy, especially the wide receivers. I though last season the Rams were the team to beat in the NFC West (I know, way off). QB Sam Bradford is a great young player and if Manning does not go to the Cards, I think he is the best quarterback in the division. Wait! Let me explain myself. In 2010 Bradford was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and he earned that distinction with many of his teammates in the injury lists. His top three receivers all went down with injuries during the season and he still played great.
In the 2011 season it was déjà vu. His receivers could not stay healthy and Bradford himself got bit by the injury bug. Fortunes look to be turning for the Rams. They gave the Washington Redskins the second pick of this year’s upcoming draft and in return they will receive the Redskins first round pick for the next three drafts, including a second round pick in this year’s draft. Wow! If the Rams play their hand correctly, they have the chance to build an incredibly young talented team. In my opinion they already have the quarterback for the job. Watch out for the Rams in years to come.
Should this scare me as a Niner fan? Hell no! BRING IT ON!!!!!!!!! The most talented team does not always win; it is usually the better prepared and disciplined that prevails. I believe the Niners display those qualities the best. The Niners also have something those three teams do not, which is HC Jim Harbaugh. The division is no longer the laughing stock of the NFL. Quite frankly, it is becoming one of the toughest. GO NINERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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