2009 NFC West Preview: It's In the Cards

NC Nighthawk@NC Nighthawk (my Xbox gamertag)Analyst IJuly 25, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals scores on a 64-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Steelers won 27-23.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

I just pinched myself again. Was that the Arizona Cardinals barreling their way through playoff victories and almost defeating the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl?

It had to be a dream, right?  No, it really did happen!

Yes, there is new life in the Mild, Mild NFC West. If they don’t self-destruct, the Cardinals should win the NFC West again and make another playoff run.

To achieve a return to the playoffs, much less another Super Bowl appearance, quarterback Kurt Warner must remain healthy. With his age and history of nagging injuries, will he have similar success in 2009?

Speaking of injury-prone players, rookie running back Chris “Beanie” Wells seems to be an ideal match for Arizona's offense. 

Beanie is athletic, quick, and talented. Again, if Wells can take the hard hits of the NFL, he will highly compliment the Cards’ strength: their passing offense.

Recently, I downloaded the new exclusive demo for Madden NFL 10. For my first game, I chose the Pittsburgh Steelers as an opponent.

The Cardinals won the coin toss and elected to receive the kickoff.  On the very first offensive play of the game, Warner handed the ball to Wells on a delay/draw type of run. Then and Beanie got "beaned" and suffered an injury that knocked him out for the rest of the game.

I thought that was so very hilarious. Even Wells' injury/stamina ratings must be low in Madden NFL 10.

If they both can stay healthy, Warner and Wells may lead the Cards back to another Super Bowl. Kurt Warner and the passing offense proved that they do not need an effective running game to be successful, but it would add a dimension that may result in less pressure and hits on Warner.

Wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston are arguably the best trio of wide receivers in the NFL today.

Master motivator Mike Singletary brings his no-nonsense approach back to San Francisco. His 49ers will edge the Seattle Seahawks for second place in the NFC West division.

After finishing the 2008 season 5-2 under new head coach Mike Singletary, the 49ers are closer to a playoff run than they have been in a long time. However, a tough schedule  suggests that they are still about a win away from the post season.

The strength of the 49ers is their rushing defense. Singletary needs to fix their weakness: turnover ratio.

At the same time, the quarterback position remains unsettled and unstable in San Francisco. Is Singletary entertaining thoughts of Michael Vick?

He may not be the only one because Vick’s former coach now works in Seattle.

After a most disappointing four-win season, the Seattle Seahawks will have a more defensive mindset under new head coach Jim Mora. The defense may improve, but the offense will continue to disappoint.

Seattle wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh could be productive as an excellent route-runner with good hands, but he cannot carry or even spark an offense with big play potential. His addition will not significantly help the offense.

Besides, T.J. will miss his old quarterback, Carson Palmer.

The bright spot on the Seahawks is their awesome group of linebackers. Lofa Tatupu, LeRoy Hill, and Aaron Curry could each make the Pro Bowl. This trio may surpass the Chicago Bears linebackers as the best in the league.

Last and least are the St. Louis Rams. The Rams will continue to struggle on defense as their young players learn and adjust to their defensive-minded new head coach.

That’s right. The former New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo brings his smash mouth style to St. Louis.

In 2008, St. Louis' offense earned a new nickname: “The Worst Show on Turf.” The Rams cannot try to simply outscore teams in shootouts. 

The problems for St. Louis are that they have holes on the offensive line and they have a very inexperienced wide receiver group.

So in 2009, they will run the ball often and attempt to morph into a Bill Parcells’ type of team.

But who knows? St. Louis may begin a route of slow improvement.

Technorati Tags: NFC West,NFL,Arizona Cardinals,sports,news

Quote of the Day:
The cynic is his own worst enemy. It requires far less skill to run a wrecking company than it does to be an architect.
--U.S. Andersen


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