September 3, 2010

How the NFL Wests were won

by Dan Bilicki In: Football

To start off our previews of the NFL’s divisions leading up to kick off a mere few days away, we’ve decided to start with the weakest of the all the groups out there: The NFC and AFC West divisions.

These two divisions are so weak that there might only be one true contender among the bunch – and it’s not even the team that I predict will go 12-4.

After the departures of Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin and Karlos Dansby from the desert, the NFC West is clearly San Francisco’s to lose. Heck, Arizona has even started trade talks about their supposed replacement for Warner, Matt Leinart. The Cardinals are going to have to try to win games with running and defence this season, and that just isn’t going to happen.

The 49ers have assembled a great defence, a sturdy offensive line and their passing attack looks to be above-average to compliment their running attack. Frank Gore is a stud, as is Patrick Willis. Vernon Davis has even started living up to his potential with coach Mike Singletary captaining this ship. Take a look at their schedule too; it’s actually believable the Niners could be the No. 1 in the NFC.

The Seahawks and Rams are both in the rebuilding mode and won’t contend, even in this terrible division. At least the building is under way and maybe these two moribund squads will be able to get back into contention after years in the dumps. And seriously, besides Steven Jackson, is there a single good fantasy player on these two teams?

49ers 12-4
Cardinals 6-10
Seahawks 6-10
Rams 4-12

In the AFC’s version of the slums, a perennial doormat could actually come to life this season. Of course, when you’re talking about the Oakland Raiders, expect anything, especially around draft time. This year they solidified their defence and could win a few games on that alone – especially against division opponents. They’ve even made a huge upgrade at QB with Jason Campbell coming in. He may be average on all fronts, but that’s 80% better than JaMarcus Russell.

San Diego may have a few holdouts and some new faces in key places, but this is still the powerhouse of the division we’re talking about here. Washed-up LaDainian Tomlinson to rookie Ryan Matthews should be an upgrade and the passing game shouldn’t miss Vincent Jackson too much.

Believe it or not, the Broncos actually made the Super Bowl with a 12-4 record in my recent season of Madden. Of course, that’s with a few key free agent signings and Elvis Dumervil not on the IR, but still a huge upset. At least they still have their home field advantage and can win some late-season games there in altitude.

The Chiefs are still trying to recreate their Patriots West idea, but without a stout defence or a decent offensive line, that’s not a possibility. Also, coach Todd Haley doesn’t seem so cut out for the job. Maybe he was better served as an offensive co-ordinator.

AFC West
Chargers 11-5
Raiders 8-8
Broncos 6-10
Chiefs 6-10

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