Don't expect NFC West three-peat
Well Cardinals fans, it was nice while it lasted. Two straight years winning the NFC West. A Super Bowl appearance. A fantastic overtime win against the Packers at home in the playoffs. Cherish these memories. This year they will be all you have.
On Sundays you'll be around your barbeque in your black Beanie Wells jersey sitting outside of University of Phoenix Stadium and talking about Fitz in Tampa, Dansby running back Aaron Rodgers fumble and it will feel great. You'll be a lot happier before the games than after.
The San Francisco 49ers will regain the edge in the NFC West. Don't believe all of the stories about the team being a mess and the coach being a little crazy. (Well maybe the coach being a little crazy, that might be true, he got hit in the head a lot, but it seems to make him a better coach.) The fact is San Francisco is just better than the other three teams in the NFC West.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say the Niners will go 13-3 and have a shot at the Super Bowl, but they should have no problem winning this division. In fact San Francisco is the most stable team in playing in the division right now. Saturday the top three headlines on ESPN.com's NFL section were:
(Okay it might have said Houshmandzadeh. But if we all have to call Chad Johnson, Chad Ocho-Cinco, can't we all agree to just call T.J. Howsyourmama whatever we want. We all know who we're talking about.)
None of those headlines are there to instill confidence in the fan base. I am sure Rams fans are excited to see Bradford get sacked 300 times, he got hit twice in college and couldn't play anymore. Seahawks fans are going to say they are confident in Mike Williams being rejoined with Pete Carrol. And Cardinal Fans are going to be calling for Max Hall all year. What team is missing from those headlines? Exactly. The 49ers.
The main reason San Fran is getting all the love in the NFC West is this:
The 49ers lost exactly zero playmakers from last year. Zero. In fact, you can say they gained one by having Michael Crabtree for an entire season. Alex Smith is getting his first back to back seasons with the same offensive coordinator. Vernon Davis is a leader (who would have expected that) and has finally turned into one of the best all-around tight ends in the league. On defense they have arguably the best linebacker in the NFL in Patrick Willis, a top cover corner in Nate Clements and legitimate pass rusher in Justin Smith. When you bring all those players back with the same coaching staff, same scheme and a declining division; there is a good chance of winning the division. Playmakers win games; playmakers in comfortable situations win divisions. (Yes, that was two successive sentences with successful use of the semi- colon. Don't say I didn't listen in your English class Mrs. Traina.)
Take a look at the other three teams in the NFC West and their lack of playmakers -
Now the Rams lost one play maker this year to injury, when Donnie Avery tore his ACL. They might have added one in Sam Bradford but he's a rookie QB. They have Steven Jackson, but that might be all the playmakers they have, not enough to win.
The Seahawks seem to be lacking any legit playmakers. Especially with the release/trade of Housmazilli. Hasselbeck is solid, but his sister-in-law is more a key to The View than he is to the Seahawks success. They are just bad.
Then there are Cardinals who lost four key playmakers in the offseason. Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, and Antrel Rolle. Those four were replaced with Derek Anderson, Steve Breaston, Joey Porter, and Kerry Rhodes.
None of the replacements are on the same level except maybe Porter, and that is only if he doesn't blow out a hip.
If you don't believe me, when you go to the games this year, see if you are happier before you enter UoP stadium than when you leave. Chances are you will be.