I wanted to do an NFL preview to accompany my NCAA preview, and wanted it to be a little more in depth. The plan is to break it down division by division, one division a day, and then a day or two more of other predictions. Here's the tentative schedule.
Today: NFC West
Tomorrow: AFC West
Wednesday: NFC South
Thursday: AFC South
Friday: NFC North
Aug. 18: AFC South
Aug. 19: NFC East
Aug. 20: AFC East
Aug. 21: Awards and other things
Aug. 22: Playoffs
The big story coming out of San Francisco is the arrival of offensive coordinator Mike Martz and the changes he will bring. He ran the "Greatest Show on Turf" in St. Louis, and once he was dumped there went to Detroit, and made Ford Field more of an aerial show than the flyover at the Super Bowl. So what will he bring to the 49ers?
I don't think a bunch, other than Frank Gore maybe catching 80-100 passes and becoming LT like. This team still has struggles at major positions, most namely at QB, where J.T. O'Sullivan seems to be much closer to the job than he should be. It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable how much stock Alex Smith has lost in just a few years. This team needs a QB in the next draft in a bad way.
The Rams are an intriguing team. They have some real good offensive weapons; well, one, and he isn't in camp now. The bottom line here is that they need to give Steven Jackson his money, and quickly if they want any chance to contend this year. Larry Johnson got a bit south of 50 million, and I like SJ eons more than Larry. Pay the man.
Their defense is coming around as well, and in the last two drafts has shored up their D-line with Adam Carriker and Chris Long, guys who should be Rams cornerstones for years.
The Cardinals could be a surprise. They locked up Fitzgerald for the next few years and made sure they kept a key cog around to lead this team to greener pastures in their new stadium.
They need to figure out if Leinart is good enough to make people not think about Warner, and if he isn't, give the job to Warner and ride happily to 25+ TD passes and close to 4000 yards. Edge is getting a bit old, but still has some gas in the tank, and the line is improving.
The D is the wild card for this team; it could put the team over the hump and vault them into the playoffs in a weak division.
The Seahawks are still the team to beat. Three years removed from a Super Bowl berth, the defense is this team's strong point. They have studs on all three levels, with Kerney, Tatupu, and Trufant. Hopefully for them Julius Jones can come in and be a semblance of what Shaun Alexander used to be, and be productive enough to not make RB a liability and Matt Hasselbeck a Drew Brees-like attempt guy.
Here's how the NFC West will finish:
1. Seahawks 10-6
2. Cardinals 8-8
3. Rams 5-11
4. 49ers 5-11
Well there's round one. As always, leave your feedback. I went through the teams' schedules to get their records, so if I do this right, the league should all match up.
August 19th Update: The Seahawks, Cardinals, and 49ers have been given an extra win as a re-evaluated my NFL schedule.