I don't spend too much time dealing with the other teams in the NFC West, at least not unless it somehow directly connects with the St. Louis Rams. And I guess this post kinda, sorta does deal directly with the Rams, more specifically the likelihood of them winning the NFC West.
We all agree that the Rams earned a solid A for their free agent haul. However, the move that got the most headlines within the division was the Arizona Cardinals trade for QB Kevin Kolb. Lost without Kurt Warner (sound familiar), the Cardinals went searching for an answer after seeing the results of more economical options last year. What kind of impact will Kolb have on their fortunes this season?
John Clayton of ESPN thinks Kolb could be worth three more wins this year, thanks in large part to his prediction that Larry Fitzgerald will catch 115 passes. Three more wins would put the Cardinals at 8-8 this season, a record that would probably be enough to win the division.
If the Cardinals go 8-8, it would likely spell something less for the Rams. Kolb may have more time in the NFL, but Sam Bradford already has 9 more starts in just one season. Bradford has a better rating, but Kolb has a 0.8 percent edge in completion percentage. And wait, using the Net Yards gained per attempt (NY/A) and Adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A) stats that got Bradford labeled overrated, it's damn near a draw between the two.
They're virtually the same, stats-wise. I'll take Bradford's upside. Kolb does have Larry Fitzgerald, probably the best WR in the NFL (only Andre Johnson would have a case to be listed above him). That just doesn't quite compare to anyone receiver on the Rams roster. Of course, Kolb also has Levi Brown and Bradon Keith protecting his flanks. I also like the idea of Bradford and Steven Jackson matching up against the defense.
Schedule-wise, the Cardinals also play the NFC East and the AFC North. Have fun with those games. I'm not getting into the Kolb vs. Bradford debate; of course, Bradford is better. It does look like the Cardinals have a better answer at QB, but big questions elsewhere.
Eight wins is going to be tough for any team in this division. I'll take the Rams (even without being a total homer) to get there before any other team.