In today’s edition of the Roost’s NFL Preview, “Eight in Eight,” we look at the NFC West.
1. St Louis Rams
Scott Linehan’s offense should put up some gaudy numbers this year and propel the Rams to the head of the pack. Behind one of the best offensive lines in the game, potential MVP Marc Bulger has a plethora of weapons at his disposal including suddenly-elite runner Steven Jackson, Torry Holt (one of the league’s most dangerous receivers even when not 100%), Isaac Bruce (still a threat at 35), and Drew Bennett (a former #1 in Tennessee, now a 3). They even added former X-Factor Dante Hall for kick returns. The Rams defense is also very capable of winning games. On the D-Line, Leonard Little had 13 sacks last season and the team drafted nose tackle Adam Carriker to solidify the line for the future. Look for the Rams to make a lot of noise this year.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Three years ago they were a joke, but now it seems that the 49ers are ready to make the leap to become a Wild Card contender. With most teams, the key to success is at the quarterback position and this is the season where we’ll find out if Alex Smith is ready to lead a team into the postseason. Frank Gore is a beast when healthy and the team put a lot of money into the defense this offseason. Former Bill, the shutdown corner Nate Clements, steps in at $80 million to bolster a secondary that had a mediocre 27 takeaways a year ago. The ‘9ers should be fun to watch and competitive in every game. Can’t wait to watch these guys in December.
3. Seattle Seahawks
They’ll probably finish in second place in the division. They have a lot of experience and bounceback years from Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander should give them a big boost, but it’s tough to see them jumping over San Fran and St Louis right now. Seattle is a talented, well coached team, and that should be enough to keep them alive in Week 15, but they’re now in a tough division and will suffer because of that.
4. Arizona Cardinals
By default, the Cardinals are at the bottom of the heap once again. In a division that got really good, really fast, Arizona is just a victim of inexperience that will lose the close games against their divisional opponents. Edgerin James can only be better, but their line has been historically awful and it’s far fetched to think they’ll get better anytime soon. Their defense isn’t anything spectacular. Prediction for new head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s first Dennis Green-esque meltdown: Postgame Week 5 (at St Louis).
And finally, Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback is always a must-read, but this week is especially good. King brings in former Bills center Ross Tucker to detail what it’s like to get cut from an NFL team. Tucker was placed on injured reserve by the Redskins this weekend as they trimmed their roster down to 53.
Before signing my medical paperwork, I asked the team for an MRI to make sure my neck was OK after having those two stingers in the game. It turns out I have a herniated disc that may require surgery at some point. Two doctors told me I shouldn’t play again this year because of some signs of spinal cord irritation. They don’t think it is a good idea if I ever play again. The Redskins put me on injured reserve, but the end result is the same: I will never play football again.