Happy Labor Day everybody! We celebrate the day by wrapping up our preview of the upcoming NFL season (which is now just two days away) by taking a look at the NFC West.
(To view previous NFL previews, click on any of the following division names: AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, NFC East, NFC South, NFC North)
Top Cardinals Games of 2012
The Arizona Cardinals are just a few years away from being in the Super Bowl, but since QB Kurt Warner retired, the team has struggled to find a competent replacement. The starting QB job this year will go to Kevin Kolb, who has struggled throughout his time in Arizona, with John Skelton waiting in the wings if Kolb trips up. If Arizona wants a successful 2012, they need one of the quarterbacks to be able to get the ball to arguably the best wide receiver in the game, Larry Fitzgerald.
Projection: Unless one of the team's quarterbacks exceeds expectations, the Cardinals are on their way to another mediocre season without a trip to the postseason.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers were just a couple of plays away from going to the Super Bowl last year. The team returns most of their defense from 2011, which held opponents to a league-low 77 rushing yards per game. Where the Niners struggled at times last year was on offense, but the team tried to address that issue by adding wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, as well as RB Brandon Jacobs.
Projection: The 49ers are by far the class of the NFC West. As long as players stay healthy and the team's defense repeats their performance from last year, San Francisco should win the division handily.
Top Seahawks Games of 2012
The Seahawks are going to look like a different team in 2012, and I'm not even counting the new uniforms they will be sporting. Seattle made big news by signing QB Matt Flynn from Packers to lead the team, but to the surprise of many, the team also selected QB Russell Wilson in the third round of the NFL Draft. This preseason, Wilson outplayed Flynn and was ultimately named the starter. It will be interesting to see if a QB controversy starts if Wilson struggles early on.
Projection: It's difficult to predict any team that has a rookie starting quarterback, but looking at the Seahawks roster, it looks pretty average and chances are the team's final final record will be pretty average as well.
St. Louis Rams
Many thought the Rams were going to be the most improved team last season, but thanks to injuries and poor performance, they ended up being the most disappointing, finishing 2-14. St. Louis hired former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher as their new head coach, who they hope can bring the same success he had in Tennessee. But the success of the Rams really depends on third-year QB Sam Bradford bouncing back from a disappointing 2011.
Projection: While the Rams did improve their team in the offseason, they still have a long way to go before they are a playoff caliber team. When the 2012 season comes to close, the Rams will likely find themselves at the bottom of the division.