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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:

“Cardinals decide to cut ties
with Leinart”

“Rams name top pick Bradford
as week 1 starter”

“Seahawks let go
veteran WR Housmazode”

(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.

Please send any comments or questions to ap@ktar.com
and follow me on Twitter @AP620.