I hate to rush summer; saying goodbye to the long days, warm weather and relative malaise at the office is always difficult. That said, it seems like football season is never going to get here, and I'm itching to see a new season from the Rams after last year's forgettable run.
I can't make the season get here any faster, but we can replicate some of the fall's offerings. Like rankings! Today, a run through the NFC West, a division where, right now, it looks like anything can happen.
1. St. Louis Rams - Total homer pick, right? But what am I supposed to put here; do you want to read this and feel bad about the Rams? The defense, upgraded with Chris Long and a backfield looking healthy and fast, should give division rivals plenty of trouble. On the other side of the ball, the offensive line has been upgraded at a key spot with the addition of LG Jacob Bell and the middle has been bulked up with Incognito and Setterstrom at C and RG. Add to that the expectation of solid years from the knees, feet, elbows, shoulders and hands of the rest of the o-line, including LT Orlando Pace, and a motivated Steven Jackson and Marc Bulger could really shine under the playcalling leadership of new OC Al Saunders.
2. Seattle Seahawks - Injuries could easily drop this team to the fortunes the Rams suffered last season, and Seattle fans will be keeping a close eye on 34-year-old LT Walter Jones. Questions at wide receiver hurt their prospects on offense too. The Seahawks improved an already strong defensive front 7 from last season. First round pick Lawrence Jackson will pair with Patrick Kerney at DE testing blockers, and giving Bulger and other QBs plenty of headaches. The backfield could be a problem. Led by Marcus Trufant and scant parts thereafter, deep balls will be a problem. More here.
3. Arizona Cardinals - St. Louis' old football team made significant upgrades at some key areas this season, in the secondary and the pass rush, in the hopes of building on their surprise 8-8 second place finish in the NFC West. The aging Edge James and quarterback controversy could hurt their offense, and their mediocre-at-best run defense could cost them close games.
4. San Francisco 49ers - Isaac Bruce is the number one receiver and the starting QB has yet to be determined. Yeah, that bodes well. They upgraded their d-line, but a lack of depth behind Nate Clements and questions about stopping the run will hurt. More.