Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Conspicuously absent

My apologies for my recent absence. There were some recent electrical storms that have wreaked havoc with my Internet access here in Western Maryland. I am, however, back, on with the NFC West (finally)...

Arizona Cardinals - Can Matt Leinart and the Cardinals offense progress and build off of last year? Last season Leinart showed flashes of why he was a top draft pick as a QB, often making something out of nothing behind a spotty offensive line. The team has the skill position players in place to make the jump to contender in a weak division, but has historically had issues at quarterback and along the line. If Leinart can stay upright and get the ball out to his big wide-outs, then they will have a chance every week.

St. Louis Rams - Can the front office get Marc Bulger in to camp in time to build off of last year's success? Last season, after several down seasons, the Rams challenged the Seahawks for the division title. Inconsistency plagued the team as they sometimes beat the tough opponents and struggled against the weak ones. However, the offense - led by Bulger and running back Stephen Jackson - clicked down the stretch. If either of those two cogs is not ready for the opener, then the Rams are starting the season with a handicap.

San Francisco 49ers - Can the revamped receiving corps have success? San Francisco made a quantum leap forward last year, showing life on offense. In order to bolster the roster, the 49ers brain-trust went out and got Darrell Jackson from the Seahawks and Ashley Lelie from Atlanta to revamp their receiver corps. If Jackson is healthy, he could still be a legitimate number one receiver. However, it should be a cause for concern that the Seahawks were willing to deal him within the division, and Lelie has been a bust his entire career. A receiver with number one sort of talent, Lelie has only occasionally shown the ability to live up to his potential.

Seattle Seahawks - Can they hold off the rest of the division? Last season the 9-7 Seahawks back-slid, barely finishing ahead of the 8-8 Rams and the 7-9 49ers one season after walking away with the division and going to the Super Bowl. There are a lot of ifs that need to be answered with this team in determining whether or not they can hold off the rest of the division - if Deion Branch can step it up and be a legitimate number one receiver in a system other than the Patriots (most scouts have him as the second receiver), if the revamped secondary can gel in training camp, if Shaun Alexander can fend off time and return to the form he had two seasons ago while avoiding injury. These are some of the questions the team needs to answer - and if the answers to any of these are "no," then it could be a very tough season for the team from the Emerald City.

1 comment:

falcon02520 said...

One thing we know about the NFC West is that these teams can run and cant stop the run. With premier running backs Frank Gore, Steven Jackson, Edgerrin James, and Shaun Alexander it is a challenge every week to slow these four down.

None of these teams are ranked in the top 16 in rush defense last year (Arizona was highest at 17th). This could be because of the talented backs in the division, or just because none of them can really play defense.

If a team can step up and shut down the opposing running game, they will have a huge advantage in a wide open division.