2012 NFL Preview: NFC West

In 2011, the NFC West was wide open and widely regarded as the worst division in all of football. With the emergence of the 49’ers though, that is now a tougher division than it once was.

1. San Fransisco 49’ers, Predicted Record: 13-3

The 49’ers are a good team, but I’m still not sure if they’re a great team. They added a lot of pieces on offense, but they are some questionable pieces and they need to hope they turn out right. We still don’t know if Randy Moss is going to make an impact, and the same goes for Brandon Jacobs who they added to their backfield. Both are old and wearing down. Also old and wearing down may be their current running back Frank Gore. He’s 29, and has only played a full season once in his NFL career. After Week 8, Gore didn’t have a single 100 yard rushing game and that included games against the Rams, Cardinals and Seahawks; all of which had poor defenses. The 49’ers are thinking to the future by bringing in Jacobs and drafting LaMichael James, so this may be the year that Frank Gore finally breaks down.

With all the questions on their offense though, they have one of the best defenses in the league. They were one of the league’s best defenses in 2011 and return almost all of their players, so there’s no reason to believe that they wouldn’t be great again. The 49’ers may not be the best team in the NFC, but they play in the weakest division. They play an easy schedule with an elite defense, so I see them getting to 13 wins and being one of the top seeds in the NFC.

2. Seattle Seahawks, Predicted Record: 7-9

In most QB battles this offseason, it was a battle between two incompetent QB’s. In Seattle though, I actually thought both Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson were good. Not great, but good. Wilson showed a lot during the preseason, but I’m still skeptical whether or not he can keep it up. Like the 49’ers, they also benefit from playing the Cardinals and Rams twice a year. The Seahawks also have possibly the best home field advantage in all of the NFL, which is good enough for them to pull out a couple of wins. They are an average team in 2012.

3. St. Louis Rams, Predicted Record: 3-13

In Jeff Fisher’s first year in St. Louis, it’s going to be as tough as last year was. It may be a make or break year for Sam Bradford though. He struggled a lot last year and many people are now questioning the former first round pick, who was chosen by a different coach and staff. Jeff Fisher would love to draft his own QB if Bradford doesn’t work out.

Besides Steven Jackson and Cortland Finnegan this team doesn’t have many good playmakers. Chris Long is evolving into a good pass rusher, but he’ll be facing plenty of double teams with nobody else to get pressure on that line. We’re also nearing a time when Steven Jackson should start declining. He’s had injury problems in the past and like Frank Gore, was pretty average in the second half of 2011. They also drafted Isaiah Pead, who should replace Jackson when that decline does start. This team isn’t good, and isn’t very close.

4. Arizona Cardinals, Predicted Record: 2-14

It really didn’t matter who won the QB battle in Arizona, because either way they’re out of luck. Neither QB is a game changer, and it may finally be the year when Arizona realizes it needs to use a first round pick on one. They are hoping from a healthy year from Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, who could form a nice running back duo if healthy. We all know who their best player is, and that’s Larry Fitzgerald. He’s been stuck with awful QB’s for almost his whole career, and at least they’ve gotten somebody good to line up across from him. Michael Floyd should get more attention than the normal Cards 2nd WR, but now they need a QB to get them the ball. Their defense is also in for another rough year. They have two good lineman in Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett to go along with 2nd year CB Patrick Peterson. Besides them though, that defense doesn’t have anybody who can make a difference. It’s going to be another long year for the Cardinals.


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