How does the fallout from Peyton Manning's decision to sign with the Denver Broncos impact the NFC West?
Go back to what you were doing. The eagle has landed. Payton Manning agreed to a deal with the Denver Broncos, taking him out of contention for the NFC West teams that had courted him. It also means Tim Tebow is likely out on the street in Denver, looking for a new NFL home. So what does this all mean for the St. Louis Rams? Surprisingly more than you realize.
San Francisco was a late entrant to the Manning sweepstakes. Had they signed Manning, a healthy Manning, they would have instantly become Super Bowl favorites given that they were already one turnover away from the Super Bowl last season.
But they didn't sign him. In fact, they may have lost the quarterback that surprisingly took them all the way to the NFC Championship game because of their dalliance with Manning. That is what could have the biggest impact on the Rams and the division race.
Smith is in Miami, visiting the Dolphins. He is the best quarterback available on the free agent market. Without him, San Francisco, who built a game around his limitations, would be hurting for the 2012 season. It could potentially open up the division to a real horse race.
Seattle is the most likely usurper if San Francisco falls out because of their quarterback troubles. They just signed Matt Flynn and already boast a very good, underrated defense.
Arizona still has problems throughout their roster, not the least of which is quarterback. Kevin Kolb and John Skelton have to hope the team drafts offensive line help, because their offseason moves have done little to boast a unit that struggled last season.
As for the Rams, they might be more viable in a division where the favorites might lose the best quarterback option they had. It will still be tough until the team can shore up its run defense and get some playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.
The only team in the division that might have even a remote interest in Tim Tebow is Arizona. So far, they have not been mentioned in all the speculation about a potential landing spot for Tebow.