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San Francisco 49ers: Are Arizona Cardinals a Legitimate Challenge in '12?

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San Francisco 49ers: Are Arizona Cardinals a Legitimate Challenge in '12?
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
There is no love lost between these two divisional foes.

The San Francisco 49ers, and rest of the NFC West for that matter, no longer qualify as the laughingstock division of the NFL.

The success of the 2011 49ers, as well as their newsworthy free-agent acquisitions and draft selections, are all well documented. The team comes into 2012 as a logical favorite for another division crown and to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

But how about the Arizona Cardinals, the team that finished second in the West?

Arizona’s squad won seven out of their last nine games a season ago, including a victory over the NFC West champs. They feature an effective mix of young talent and savvy vets on defense and retooled the wide receiver position through the draft and free agency.

Let’s evaluate the prospects of the Cardinals providing a challenge to the 49ers of securing another division title in 2012.

 

Note: I will later evaluate the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams in this three-part series.

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