Thursday, August 25, 2011
NFL Preseason Predictions! Part 6: The Pitiful NFC West + Super Bowl Prediction!
I know, my title is harsh. But there's good reasoning.
1. No team from this division has won a Super Bowl in over a decade.
2. There hasn't been a wild card qualifier from this division since 2004.
3. Last year, the NFC West housed the worst and second worst rushing teams in the entire NFL.
4. The Seahawks won the divisional title last season with a 7-9 record.
5. Can you name more than three players on more than one of these teams? Probably not.
Therefore, my title is justified. Deal with it, west-coasters. And Missourians.
1. St. Louis Rams 8-8
It came down to who has a better defense in determining this division's winner, and the Lou has the advantage. Teams won't be terrified to face them, but the Rams will definitely be able to shut down some of the more average teams this year. That's all QB Sam Bradford will need, depending on whether or not he avoids the sophomore slump. Stephen Jackson defines the word "workhorse" and although he's take a load of hits in his career, he's just too strong to slow down yet. Additionally, Jackson will have the new support of Jerious Norwood and Cadillac Williams to take some of the load off of his shoulders. He's been carrying the team on his back for too long, and its time he gets some help. The receiving corps is still below average, but with the addition of Mike Sims-Walker and signings of rookies Austin Pettis and Greg Salas, St. Louis is taking small steps of improvement. The Rams have the ability to make some noise this season, but we'll see whether or not they can live up to the hype.
Final Prediction: Loss in Wild Card Round
2. Seattle Seahawks
Seattle made some noise last season, and it wasn't just the "12th man". After making the playoffs with an unheard of 7-9 record, the 'Hawks took down the defending champion New Orleans Saints in the wild card round of the playoffs. All eyes are on newly acquired Tavaris Jackson, who never developed to the QB that Minnesota was hoping for. Now he's got a chance to prove himself, and he's got the talent around him to do it. Marshawn Lynch is deadly at running back, and he'll be sharing carries with Leon Washington and possibly Michael Robinson. At receiver, the Seahawks somehow managed to acquire Sidney Rice, which will provide a HUGE lift in the passing game (if Jackson can find him) and push the ball downfield for once. Golden Tate has the athleticism and ability to be an outstanding receiver, we're just waiting on the correct coaching to fully develop him. With Jackson at the helm, this will be a good but not great team, strictly because of the lack of ability in arm accuracy and decision making. Jackson can make some plays with his feet, but Seattle desperately needs success through the air, so unless the former Viking can download information from Michael Vick's brain, I don't see a playoff appearance for the 'Hawks.
Final Prediciton: Miss Playoffs
3. San Francisco 49ers 7-9
Aside from the quarterback position, the 49ers have some legit talent on offense. A machine at running back with Frank Gore, two wide receivers that have gifted abilities with Braylon Edwards and Ted Ginn, Jr. The offensive line is average, so the only thing holding these guys back is quarterback play. Alex Smith has thrown more touchdowns in his career, and hasn't come close to living up to his potential at all. Luckily for him, he's only 27 and has another year or two to step his game up and keep his job as a starter locked up. As for the San Francisco defense, you can't demand too much improvement at the linebacker position with Patrick Willis running the show, but that secondary is extremely weak. If the 9ers can continue stopping the run, and Alex Smith can learn how to play consistently, the Bay could finally reach the playoffs again. Do I think it'll happen...
Final Prediction: No
4. Arizona Cardinals 3-13
Ever since Kurt Warner left, this place has been a disaster. But with the addition of Kevin Kolb, the Cards are hoping to revitalize their glory days. They had a decent draft, acquiring a talented running back in Ryan Williams, plus an intimidating linebacker in Sam Acho, and, oh yeah, the best cornerback in the entire draft-Patrick Peterson. Mix in Peterson with Abdullah, Rhodes, and Wilson, and you've got quite an impressive secondary. But, everything else on the defense is wretched. It's not going to be a pretty year out in the desert, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Cards stole a few upsets against some playoff-caliber teams.
Final Prediction: Miss Playoffs
And that wraps up my NFL Preseason Predictions series! All 32 teams analyzed forward and back, and although I won't be dead-on, at least I gave you all some valuable information about your teams. And now, for the grand finale. . .
J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!
I think ultimately, defense wins championships. That's what New York has. A punishing, relentless defense that will ultimately get to Aaron Rodgers and force turnovers. The Jets will run the ball early and often, and by the time the 4th quarter rolls around, the Pack will be exhausted, and that's when the Jets will score the winning touchdown, a pass from Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes. Green Bay may lead early, but the green and gold just aren't tough enough to handle Rex Ryan and his malicious defense.
Thanks to all of you for your support in this series! It was fun for me, and I hope it was the same for you. And remember, whether you think you can or can't, you're probably right. Until next time!