LOUIS Ross (@LouisRoss67) likes the look of an outsider in his NFC West NFL preview.
NFC West | 13th September 2015 – 3rd January 2016
In recent this seasons this division has become possibly the most powerful in the entire Conference. Seattle attempted to back up their 2013 Super Bowl season last February and came oh so close. Could we see another tilt at the big one from these four? Absolutely. I can see two teams ready to go all the way. In the order they finished last year …
Now here is a team that split opinions. I really like them myself but they do like to talk and you can see why some NFL fans are not keen. Although I tipped the Pats to win Super Bowl 49, it was oh so close. The biggest question in the North West may not be about individuals but weather the Hawks can recover mentally from a devastating defeat.
The recruitment of Jimmy Graham at Tight End is huge for this organisation. Despite their dominance in a 12-4 season, there was an issue in the Red Zone when teams could stop Marshawn Lynch. That is certainly no longer the case. No, the biggest issue teamwise is going to be this dominant Defence. The Legion of Boom is not what it once was. Injuries to key guys, a couple have moved on. Ask yourself how dominant Seattle would have been in the last two years without LOB. They should still win the Division but maybe with a win or two less in a tough schedule.
You want a big outsider capable of going all the way? I think its the Cards in the NFC. A 9-1 start last year had fans purring. Despite a catalogue of injuries where they lost key starters in nearly every position and ended up going though about 300 QBs, they ended with a very healthy 11-5 record.
The playoffs were not kind but by then this team was on its knees. A fit-again Carson Palmer away from a Super Bowl many people said. Well guess what, Palmer is fit again as is star Running Back Andre Ellington. With Larry Fitzgerald still performing miracles out wide, a great support act like John Brown and a Defence capable of big plays, what is there not to like?! Like the Seahawks, Arizona has a reasonably tough schedule. I can see 10 wins and it may well come down to games between the top two. A quote of 33/1 to win the thing is so tempting. There may be one or two teams too strong but look for ARI to make the playoffs and you never know from there.
San Francisco 49ers
Such a difficult one this. Jim Harburgh has finally gone as Head Coach in a move that was always going to happen. Shame really as this team had been dead for sometime and he made them contenders again. His most controversial decision may be one that the 49ers still have to deal with. Colin Kaepernick. Is he an elite Quarterback? No. Is he capable of running the offence of a big time team? Er, thats where I may differ to some of you. Dont rate him at all.
The loss of Michael Crabtree will hurt. How long can Anquin Boldin keep doing it. I read a stat early in preperation for this which I still find astounding. San Fran lost 37% of its starters from 2014 during the Offseason. Wow. My knowledge of NFL training and tactics may be limited but I know damn well that incorporating over a third of a team into a Playbook is nigh impossible. Good luck with that. 8 and 8 last season was an awful return, I fear they may struggle to hit that mark this season.
St Louis Rams
You remember pre-2008 when every Euro/World Cup that came along some smartass would tell you Spain were the dark horses. Something everyone knew and also everyone knew they would let you down for sure. Step forward the guy who has thought the Rams were dark horses for the last four years.
They may have jettisoned Sam Bradford to Philly but Jeff Fisher likes to build his teams around the Running game anyway. The team has not had a winning season in forever, Fisher has not coached a winning team in seven seasons. Its not good is it? I have to stick with these guys though. They are not going to win a tough division but can they get nine wins and sneak into the Post Season? I think so. The Defence comes to play every time. It may no longer be the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ but they are not far away. Next seasons Dark Horses anyone?
NFC West – Arizona Cardinals to win NFC West (7/1 Coral)