In recent history, the NFC West division has been the weakest. As a purist football fan, it was good to see the 49ers win the division without a 7-9 record. Can any other team compete with the Niners? The questions surrounding the other teams have to do with their quarterbacks and makes me think the Niners will strike gold once again.
San Francisco 49ers (11-5):
The biggest question surrounding this team is whether or not they can match or beat last year’s 13-3 record. All the offseason acquisitions were additions to the team with wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham and running back Brandon Jacobs. The addition of Jacobs will likely also provide some looks for tight end Vernon Davis.
Jacobs, as well as Frank Gore, will take the pressure off the passing game. Although Moss, 35, has been out of the game and might be rusty, his addition probably won’t hurt a team that had a third-down conversion rate of 29.4. Quarterback Alex Smith might be playing with somewhat of a chip on his shoulder after the team pursued Peyton Manning in the offseason. With more weapons on his offense, he’ll have a good shot at beating last year’s 13-3.
Seattle Seahawks (8-8):
The obvious question surrounding the Seahawks (other than their uniforms) is quarterback Matt Flynn. Will he be another Matt Cassel or Kevin Kolb?
Flynn, the Tyler, Texas native set a club record in Green Bay in Week 17 last year with his 480 yards and six touchdowns. The Seahawks are hoping he continues that, but he doesn’t have a lot in his receiving squad. Flynn’s best target is likely Sidney Rice, who has been shaky. Even more troubling, some are saying the job isn’t automatically Flynn’s, since the team drafted quarterback Russell Wilson from Wisconsin. Is the rookie an insurance policy?
To make matters worse, apparently the Seahawks believe in subtraction by addition. The club brought in 38-year old receiver Terrell Owens. Many people think it was a good move, because Owens knows it’s his last shot, however, he’s not only been out of the game for a while, but when he was last playing, it was obvious he had lost more than a step. The same goes with the Seahawks who will need many steps to keep up.
St. Louis Rams (6-10):
Again, the quarterback is the biggest question. Will we see Sam Bradford’s Rookie of the Year-like performance of 3512 yards and 18 touchdowns or will he repeat his sophomore slump year where he threw only six touchdowns? That’s what will make the biggest difference as to whether or not the Rams will avoid the basement of the division.
The Rams’ biggest acquisition is their new head coach, Jeff Fisher. Unless he can provide a miracle bigger than the one that happened in the Music City, Fisher will come up way more than a yard shy of turning his team around. Fisher hired Greg Williams, who’s serving his suspension. Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer hopes to pound the ball with Steven Jackson, the team’s only hope, as long as he can stay healthy. If he does, he can help make the Rams the best show in the west.
Arizona Cardinals (4-12):
Do you remember when you were told if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all? Well that’s the approach I’m going to take right now with the Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best receivers in the league. Kevin Kolb is from Texas. Kevin Kolb is…well, remains to be seen.
With no running game, no defense and a questionable passing game, the Cardinals are who we thought they were. If they’re lucky, they could very easily finish third in the division. Oh, I do have one other nice thing to say about this team; I loved watching them when they were in the NFC East, but it didn’t make much sense for them to be there.
This post originally appeared on thehaguesports.com. Check it out for more clever sports commentary.