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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NFL Trimester Report: NFC West "Contender or Pretender"

The weak NFC West has been confusing to date, to say the least. The team that some considered favorites to win the division (the 49ers) have looked lost for the majority of the early season, while the favorites to finish last in the division (the Rams) have flashed signs of the bright future that lies ahead of them. So who wins the division? Good question, but someone has to make it to the playoffs if by nothing more than default...

Arizona (3-2)
How the Cardinals are above .500 is beyond logic. Statistically they are one of the worst offensive and defensive teams in the entire NFL, ranking no higher than 26th in any category. But they have somehow managed to win three games despite being outscored by 50 points overall. They even found a way to defeat the Super Bowl champion Saints while only mustering only 194 yards of total offense. The Cardinals have already released their "quarterback of the future" Matt Leinart, benched Derek Anderson, has little known rookie Max Hall under center and their running game in non-existent. As their other two victories have come against the Rams in the season opener and a one point home win against the Raiders, I can't see this team going anywhere this season. Pretender

Seattle (3-2)
The Seahawks have looked decent this season under new head coach Pete Carroll. Their defense against the run has been stingy so far (2nd in the league only allowing 70 yards per game) and the Seahawks have notched some nice victories against the 49ers, Chargers and the Bears. Trading for troubled Marshawn Lynch should give the offense a boost, and if Matt Hasselbeck can limit the turnovers they should compete for the division. But that's a mighty big "if". When the defense and special teams have as many touchdowns as the offense (seven) through the first 5 games, that isn't going to cut it. Pretender

St. Louis (3-3)
Rams fans finally have something to cheer about. Rookie quarterback sensation Sam Bradford (pictured above) has been better than advertised and has looked solid early on, somehow getting it done with a very depleted receiving corp. The Rams have even already matched their win totals from 2008 & 2009 combined with 10 games remaining. There has been some talk that they could win the division, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Four of their first six games have been at home and so has all three victories. While there is hope, it's a little too soon to start organizing the parade. Pretender

San Francisco (1-5)
To say the 49ers have failed to live up to expectations would be an understatement. And that would be putting it lightly. The Niners have looked down right awful early on. At times QB Alex Smith has played more like a HS freshman than a no. 1 overall draft pick. Top 2009 draftee Michael Crabtree hasn't turned it on yet. One bright spot has been Frank Gore's play, but with a passing game so underwhelming defenses can just key in on the run. The defense is still hard nosed but it's hard to maintain that intensity when the offense is repeatedly -producing 3 & out drives. The only question for 'Frisco is who is first to go; Smith or Singletary? Pretender


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