By Angel L. Quiles Jr.
The Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks are in position to win it all again this season. They have the most depth in the NFL, and have most of their defensive players returning this upcoming season. Including America’s sweetheart Richard Sherman.
The real danger that the Seahawks present to the NFL is on the offensive side of the football. They were hamstrung last year on offense because of the loss of their playmaker Percy Harvin. Harvin is back this season, and joining him will be their first round draft pick Paul Richardson. Richardson brings 4.3 speed that will have quarterback Russell Wilson chopping at the bit to throw the deep ball. They still have Marshawn Lynch aka “beast mode” their colossal running back. He will be looking to mow defenders over, and create chances for Wilson on play-action pass plays.
All in all, if Seattle can score more points with an improved offense, and the defense stays as suffocating as a Ziploc bag. Seattle can definitely win it all, and possibly go undefeated in their division, and maybe in the league.
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco has been to the NFC championship game the last three years, and the Super Bowl in 2012. Their defense has been widely considered the most physical in the game, and have led the NFL in points allowed per game the last three seasons.
However, look for all of that to change, and the decline of the 49ers to begin. The defense has lost linebacker NaVorro Bowman to an injured ACL, and linebacker Aldon Smith to suspension. Two powerful men on their defense who are their leaders, and will be sorely missed.
Colin Kaepernick the 49ers quarterback signed a seven year, 126 million dollar deal this off-season. Therefore, he will have more pressure on his shoulders than body builders during squat routines. It will be hard for him to handle the pressure because of the lack of playmakers on offense. Michael Crabtree is a decent receiver. Nevertheless, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin are older, and may not have the ability to beat defenders consistently, especially in the NFC west. Expect the 49ers run to the playoffs to end this season.
The Cardinals have all the reason in the world to be confident going into the 2014 season. Their defense is good, and is led by a secondary featuring Patrick Peterson, and Tyrann Mathieu. In addition, their front seven are adept at stopping running backs in their tracks.
The offense can score points and have two amazing wide receivers in Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald who can make plays consistently. They will give secondary’s fits because of their speed, and precision in route running. That’s only if Carson Palmer can keep calm in the pocket, and the offensive line keeps him off the turf.
What the Cardinals really need to worry about is their strength of schedule. If they can’t find ways to beat good teams out of their division such as, the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles. Don’t expect the playoffs, because their division opponents will be just as tough.
St. Louis Rams
Quarterback Sam Bradford is out for the second straight season with a knee injury. Spelling doom for a team that wasn’t expected to do much in the tough NFC west.
However, there are a couple of things that Rams fans should look for. One is the development of the defense under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Williams was involved in the bounty gate scandal in New Orleans, and has been given a new lease on his football life in St. Louis. In New Orleans he was able to win a Super Bowl with a playmaking, ball-hawking defense. Hopefully, he can begin to change the culture of bad defenses in St. Louis.
Secondly, is the development offensive tackle Joe Barksdale who allowed only 27 quarterback pressures in 2013. If he can continue protecting the quarterback at that rate, and the offensive line can continue to grow together and get strong. Sam Bradford won’t have to stress out too much when he eventually returns to the lineup.
NFC West Predictions
1- Seattle Seahawks- 13-3
2- Arizona Cardinals- 9-7
3- San Francisco 49ers- 6-10
4- St. Louis Rams- 2-14
NFC West Top 10 Fantasy Players
1- Marshawn Lynch- SEA
2- Zac Stacy- STL
3- Larry Fitzgerald- ARI
4- Frank Gore- SF
5- Andre Ellington- ARI
6- Percy Harvin- SEA
7- Michael Crabtree- SF
8- Michael Floyd- ARI
9- Colin Kaepernick- SF
10- Seattle Seahawks defense- SEA