2011 NFL Division Preview
NFL

The Rams Climb to the Top of the NFC West [2011 NFL Division Preview]

8/18/11 in NFL   |   BenSullivan   |   96 respect

Welcome back everybody.
 
With another weekend of pretend football ahead of us, I bring you the next installment of our NFL Division Previews. Today we end our discussion of the National Football Conference with the NFC West.
 
The NFC West was the worst division in the league last year and will once again take that crown. Seattle is going in the wrong direction and the 49ers are once again spinning their wheels. The Cardinals made moves in the offseason but unless Kolb is ready to be a top five quarterback this year, not very likely, they don’t have enough else around him to be better than a .500 team.
 
That leaves us with the St. Louis Rams, the best team in the division because, well, someone has to win it. The Rams are a good young team, with a franchise quarterback and a defense with some good, young parts. If this team were in a better division, like say Tampa Bay in the NFC South, I would say that they were a year or two away from being good enough to get into the playoffs. But in the NFC West, they won’t have to wait.
 
While the teams themselves leave plenty to be desired, this is a division that features plenty of individual players who’ll be worth watching in 2011. Will Kevin Kolb be all that the Cardinals hope? Can Sam Bradford build on his impressive rookie season? Will young, high draft pick players on the defensive side like Chris Long and Aaron Curry have their breakout years? These will be some of the story lines that I’ll be interested in following this year in the NFC West.
 
One quick note before we get down to business. I’ve had a ton of fun bringing you these previews, they really are some of my favorite columns of the year to write. I say let’s keep the fun going, and because I’ve gotten such positive responses so far, I’m going to be writing a weekly NFL column this fall. It’s a work in progress, just an idea in it’s infancy, but so far I’m thinking I’ll post it on Thursdays and it’ll be a combination of a review of the week that was and a preview of the week’s games to come. I’ll break it up into sections, mostly informative but we’ll try to have some fun with it as well.
 
I also want to say that I appreciate all of your comments, and that the reason I haven’t been answering them is that I want I plan on including some sort of comment reply/mailbag type section in the regular season column, so I want to save any thoughts I have regarding your comments for that. So keep those comments coming, and if you have any questions, thoughts or ideas for the regular season column, or these division previews, don’t hesitate to drop me a message and let me know.
 
In case you missed it, here is this week’s NFC South Preview
 
Alright, let’s dig into the NFC West. 
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8/22/11   |   Dream_Machine   |   13144 respect

Seahawks takes the division again. Without TJax Though. They still have problems with their secondary but we will have enough to scrape on by.

Breakout player of the year - David Hawthorne, finally out of Tatupu's shadow.

This team will show the NFL what 2-TE sets can really do in the NFL.

8/21/11   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

chevleclair wrote:
I have some fairly bold predictions.  1) I've seen Charlie Whitehurst play, and he at least deserves more credit than he's getting. Look for Seattle to surprise everyone is Whitehurst gets to play regularly.

2) The Rams will finish dead last if Stephen Jackson gets hurt.

3) The Niners have done as much as could be plausible to improve their offense. If they don't get 9 wins this year, it's time for an overhaul.

4) Kevin Kolb is an Andy Reid system product. Given that track record so far, Arizona will flatline this year. This is a testament to Andy Reid's coaching ability, but given the records of Koy Detmer, AJ Feely, and Donovan McNabb away from Andy Reid so far, I see Kolb turning into a disaster.

I don't know what the Cards saw in Kevin Kolb.  I thought he was lousy with the Eagles.  Derek Anderson was a disaster, and proved that he was a one year wonder.  I don't see how Kolb is any improvement over him.  They knew Kurt Warner was most likely going to retire, but when he did it completely killed them.  They have a pretty decent WR core, but if you don't have a QB who can get the ball to them, they're useless.

8/19/11   |   chevleclair   |   378 respect

I have some fairly bold predictions.  1) I've seen Charlie Whitehurst play, and he at least deserves more credit than he's getting. Look for Seattle to surprise everyone is Whitehurst gets to play regularly.

2) The Rams will finish dead last if Stephen Jackson gets hurt.

3) The Niners have done as much as could be plausible to improve their offense. If they don't get 9 wins this year, it's time for an overhaul.

4) Kevin Kolb is an Andy Reid system product. Given that track record so far, Arizona will flatline this year. This is a testament to Andy Reid's coaching ability, but given the records of Koy Detmer, AJ Feely, and Donovan McNabb away from Andy Reid so far, I see Kolb turning into a disaster.

8/19/11   |   WhoDat12   |   2252 respect

I think the division is the Rams to lose.  They have a solid QB in Sam Bradford and with the free agent pickups they look to be loaded on defense.  I'm not completely sold on Kolb in Arizona yet.  He could be the next Matt Schaub, or he could be the next Scott Mitchell.  I'm not sold on whoever the 49ers choose to be their quarterback, and I don't even think Tavaris Jackson is sold on Tavaris Jackson. If he is, he shouldn't be.

8/18/11   |   Scott   |   51934 respect

The only thing that concerns me about the Rams is their schedule at the beginning of the season.  They open at home against Philly, play a Monday Night game in New York against the Giants and then have back to back home games against the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins.  After the bye week, they play at Green Bay and at Dallas before playing the New Orleans Saints at home the last weekend of October.  It's conceivable that the Rams will be better this year then last but their record could be worse.  By the time November rolls around, they could very well be 1-6 with very little margin of error the rest of the season.

8/18/11   |   Jess   |   34372 respect

 Another note - I would consider Tatupu a tough player loss as well. Although, he was gone last season, so it's not like it's something we're not used to. It just sucks to have someone who was such an integral part of the team not so long ago in FA now.

I might have to disagree that they'll do worse this year than they did last year, but I won't venture to say that they'll be a whole lot better. I also think that they're headed in the right direction, minus the QB situation. Seattle (thanks to Tim Ruskell) always had a tendency to sign old and incredibly injury prone players to long contracts. They also weren't focused much on size either on the offensive line OR the defense. Now the players are getting a lot younger and a WHOLE lot bigger, and contracts are getting smarter. I see hope in this young team, though I'm not blinded by my fandom to think that they're a shoe-in to take the division this year. Far from it.

Oh yea...and I wouldn't discount Whitehurst. I know that they've already given Jackson the starting job but if he can't prove he's the right guy for the job before the season or early into it, Carroll won't hesitate to bench him. Portis isn't ready yet to take the reigns, but Whitehurst has the potential to be solid - maybe not great, but solid. He's composed in the pocket, he's big enough to see over our O-Line, he's tough, and he'll make plays to move the chains...even if that means busting through some defenders himself if nobody's open.

8/18/11   |   Jess   |   34372 respect

 I sure hope this isn't true, but it's one thing I am concerned about. For some reason I keep hearing from people that the Cards will be back on top - and of course 49ers fans always claim it's their turn...but I've got to be honest  - as a Hawks fan, the Rams scare the crap out of me.