Rams the Top Pick in the NFC West

The NFC west could be the toughest division to anticipate.  As Seattle showed last year, even a team under .500 can win it, outdistancing St. Louis.  The Rams were trying to win the division after finishing last the year before.  Meanwhile Arizona has a new quarterback and the Niners a new coach.  The division could literally be the most competitive in the NFL.

  1. St. Louis Rams – It’s hard to believe this team is just two years away from the worst record in the NFL.  It’s also hard to believe Sam Bradford is only entering his second season.  Bradford is going to be one of the stars in the NFL, the question is when?  He led the Rams to within one game of making the playoffs last year.  This should be the year be puts them over the hump.  Of course Bradford isn’t the only piston turning.  The Rams need a big year out of Stephen Jackson, a perennial All Pro at the running back position.  Jackson can anchor the running game and give the Rams a potent attack.  Meanwhile the defense is shoring up and looking to be better than last year.  It should be a good year in St. Louis.  Take them first at 10-6.
  2. Arizona Cardinals – Just a few years removed from a Super Bowl loss and Kurt Warner’s retirement, the Cardinals now have in tow his replacement.  And hopefully a return engagement in the big dance.  The cardinals trade for former Philadelphia Eagles starter Kevin Kolb and he has moved into that role with Arizona.  They look for him to solidify the position for years to come.  But is he the quarterback that can make the franchise flourish?  Time will tell.  Arizona has also turned over the running game to Beanie Wells.  The oft-injured running back is now in the offense full time and looking to produce.  Defensively the Cardinals are getting older and need to rebuild.  However they should stay young enough to carry this team to a divisional tie with St. Louis, but a second place finish at 10-6 also.
  3. San Francisco 49ers – A new coach and new attitude enter the 2011 season for the Niners.  Gone is the “fear” perpetuated by the old regime.  In is Jim Harbaugh and his motivational way of coaching.  Harbaugh has been a winner everywhere, including his last stop at Stanford.  Now he brings his winning ways to San Francisco and attempts to do what others have tried since Bill Walsh.  Harbaugh will go with former number one pick Alex Smith to start at QB.  Smith has been over hyped and under coached during his tenure.  Now he has a proven QB coach in Harbaugh and a legitimate chance at becoming the QB most thought he would be.  Improvement will be there for the Niners.  Look at 8-8 and a third place finish.
  4. Seattle Seahawks – Last year’s surprise winner under first year coach Pete Carroll will be this year’s biggest disappointment.  Would someone please explain what Carroll was drinking when he made the decision to let Matt Hasselback leave for Tennesee and allow former Minnesota QB Tavaris Jackson to take his place?  No other off season moves matter.  The Seahawks cannot win with Jackson at QB.  By the way, if Jim Tressel is suspended for 6 games, Carroll should be suspended for the season.  If not only for what he did at USC, but for allowing Tavaris Jackson to be his quarterback.  Seahawks to finish last with a 7-9 record.

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