The NFC West has always been considered a weak division, and it still is. Over the last five years before this past season, the Seahawks had won the NFC West. This included one trip to the Super Bowl.
Last season, the Arizona Cardinals won the NFC West, which was their first playoff appearance since 1998. During the season, the Cardinals won the division only because of their offense.
The Cardinals offense had pro bowlers WR Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and QB Kurt Warner. Warner broke four Arizona passing records in 2008: passing yards (4,583), passing touchdowns (30), passes completed (401) and passes attempted (598).
The Cardinals also set a single-season team record for points scored with 427.
The rest of the teams in the NFC West were the San Fransisco 49ers (7-9), Seattle Seahawks (4-12) and the St Louis Rams (2-14). The 49ers usually finish third in the NFC West behind Seattle and recently Arizona.
The Seahawks had the worst luck last season by losing all of their key players both on offense and defense to injuries. The Rams have had the second overall pick back-to-back years.
With what the Seahawks have done this off-season and also having everyone healthy this season, the Seahawks will be back where they usually are: on top of the NFC West.
To recap who the Seahawks have added, they signed WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, DT Colin Cole, TE John Owens, CB Ken Lucas, and FB Justin Griffith. They acquired DT Cory Redding from the Detroit Lions for LB Julian Peterson.
For the draft they added LB Aaron Curry, C Max Unger, WR Deon Butler, QB Mike Teel, DE Nick Green, FS Courtney Greene, and TE Cameron Morrah.
Curry will replace Peterson at OLB. Houshmandzadeh will be the Seahawks new No. 1 WR. Redding and Cole will share the DT starting spot, but Redding will play more at DE.
Lucas will be the starting CB opposite Trufant. Unger has a huge possibility to be the starting center over Spencer. Butler could be the KR/PR and the fourth WR behind Housh, Branch, and Burleson.
Adding that with the players they already have, and all healthy the Seahawks could look to win 10-12 games this season.
For the rest of the division. The Cardinals resigned Warner, cut James, and did not trade Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Darnell Dockett and Karlos Dansby. They all have demanded either a trade or a request for a new contract. They haven’t gotten either.
The Cardinals have added RB Chris Wells, CB Bryant McFadden and FS Rashad Johnson. So now that everyone knows how the Cardinals work, they won’t do as well next year. I’m predicting 7-9 wins for the Cardinals.
The San Francisco 49ers, as usual, will finish either second or third in the west. They have made some nice additions but none that would put them over the top. They added OT Marvel Smith, WR Brandon Jones, WR Michael Crabtree, QB Damon Huard, QB Nate Davis, OT Alex Boone and RB Glen Coffee.
They could possibly come in second, but either QB situation just doesn’t work. Alex Smith is good but still unproven. Shaun Hill is a solid QB but I can’t see Hill leading the 49ers to the playoffs.
Davis and Huard are just insurance. It will be interesting to see what the 49ers do this season.
And last but not least, well actually least is the correct term, the St Louis Rams. Can they make it three for three selecting second overall in next year's draft?
Well, they brought in new head coach Steve Spagnuolo. I can’t say they got better in the off-season. They might have even gotten worse.
The Rams cut WR Torry Holt (was a great option with Avery), OT Orlando Pace and recently LB Pisa Tinoisamoa. They added OT Jason Smith, C Jason Brown (way overpaid), and LB James Laurinaitis as key additions.
Smith replaces Pace. Brown just becomes the starting center and James Laurinaitis is not as good as Tinoisamoa.
I can’t say this team has gotten better. I would have rather seen them take a WR like Crabtree and keep Pace. That way, Bulger could really have someone to throw to.
So looking at each team’s key off-season additions the Seahawks not only were the best NFC West team but they did the best out of the entire NFL over the off-season.
Think about this. The Seahawks now have an up-tempo head coach in Jim Mora, which is what they need. They get back QB Matt Hasselbeck, a #1 WR in Houshmandzadeh, all of their starting offensive linemen, DE Patrick Kerney and they also get a bonus with Curry and Lucas.
So with this entire team healthy, I can really see the Seahawks winning the NFC West easily, going deep in the playoffs and if the defense and offense can go back to their 2005 form, they can get to the Super Bowl.