2010 NFC West Preview: Which Team Will Make the Biggest Impact in 2010?

Jordan LoaCorrespondent IMay 19, 2010

SEATTLE - JANUARY 03:  Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks looks for a receiver during the game against the Tennessee Titans on January 3, 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

To say that 2010 was a year full of surprises regarding the NFC West would be a major understatement.

Pete Carroll left sunny California to try his hand at an NFL head coaching gig again, accepting the spot of head coach for the Seattle Seahawks.

The 2010 NFL Draft further added to the excitement surrounding the NFC West, with numerous top players being snagged.

How will the shift in Seattle's coaching staff and the many talented additions to the NFC West's rosters effect the balance of power within the division?

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals finished the 2009 regular season at 10-6 and went on to play the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the playoffs in what was easily the best playoff game of 2009 with 1,024 total yards between the two teams.

Arizona wound up on top, 51-45, but then went on to get hammered by the New Orleans Saints, 45-14.

Four out of the Cardinals' seven draft picks were defensive players, which is a good thing when you consider that Arizona ranked 20th in the NFL in total defense per game and 17th in rushing yards allowed per game.Β 

In 2009, the Cards gave up 346.4 total yards per game and 112.8 rushing yards per game.

Arizona looks to plug up the defensive line with a solid pick in DT Dan Williams out of Tennessee.

Combine Williams with DE O'Brien Schofield from Wisconsin, and the Cardinals should climb much higher than 20th and 17th in defense.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers' 2009 campaign ended with an 8-8 record and without a spot in the playoffs.

Offensively, 2009 was not a kind year for the 49ers, as they ranked 27th in the NFL in total yards per game with a horrid 290.8 yards per game.

The 49ers' rushing attack wasn't much better, coming in at the No. 25 spot with a mere 100 rushing yards per game.

But the 49ers made some quality investments during the draft to solidify their offensive line and boost their offensive production by adding OT Anthony Davis from Rutgers and OG Mike Iupati from Idaho.

Iupati and Davis will surely clear a path for RBs Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon.

Offense wasn't the only source of the 49ers' problems last season.

The defense ranked 15th in the NFL in total yards allowed with 326.4 yards per game.

San Francisco added a considerable defensive boost with S Taylor Mays out of USC. Mays is a punishing, physical safety and will definitely give the 49ers the defensive help they need.

Seattle Seahawks

Going 5-11, the Seahawks lost to pretty much everybody in the NFL last season.

The Seahawks were atrocious on both sides of the ball, but more so on defense.

Seattle's defense was ranked 24th in the NFL in 2009, giving up an astounding 356.4 yards per game.

The offense also ranked near the bottom at No. 21, giving up 316.8 yards per game.

With that being said, the Seahawks look to turn things around drastically in 2010 with one of the best draft classes in 2010.

OT Russell Okung from Oklahoma St. will certainly be the missing link along the Seahawks' weak offensive line which ranked 23rd in the NFL and allowed 41 sacks and 91 QB hits.

To boost that pathetic Seahawks offense, Seattle went after WR Golden Tate from Notre Dame and TE Anthony McCoy from USC.

The defense received a major upgrade from the draft, with standouts Earl Thomas of Texas occupying the safety position and Kam Chancellor from Virginia Tech taking up the FS spot.

With one the best draft classes in 2010, the Seahawks may be a force to be reckoned with come 2010.

St. Louis Rams Β 

The Rams were officially the doormat of the NFL in 2009 with a 1-15 record.

As it turns out, both the offense and defense were ranked near the bottom of the barrel in the NFL: 29th.

The offense only averaged 279.4 yards per game, while the defense gave up an appalling 372.8 yards per game.

So, having an equally terrible offense and defense presents a significant challenge for the Rams, who nabbed the No. 1 overall draft pick in Sam Bradford, who spent the majority of the 2009 season out with a shoulder injury.

Looking at the Rams' draft selections, Bradford may be out for the majority of the season to come because the Rams only drafted one offensive lineman in OT Rodger Saffold from Indiana to help protect Bradford.

This is an unbelievably foolish move on the part of the Rams.

St. Louis' offensive line ranked 26th in the NFL, giving up 44 sacks and 98 QB hits.

Bradford is in for a rough rookie season if the offensive line doesn't shape up.

The Rams' defense should be able to get it together in 2010 with six fairly good draft picks. The most notable ones being CB Jerome Murphy from South Florida and DE Hall Davis out of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Even then, I'm not too sure the Rams will move much further of either ranking.

2010 NFC West Prediction:

4. St. Louis Rams: The Rams' poor use of their draft picks leaves them at the bottom again in 2010.

3. San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers made significant improvements to both the offense and defense. These improvements will really shake things up out west.

2. Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals showed some promise last season with their high-scoring defeat of the Green Bay Packers. Add to the fact that they added promising players on both sides of the ball, look for the Cardinals to go further in 2010.Β 

1. Seattle Seahawks: Seattle easily has one of the best draft classes in all of the NFL. Plus, they now have Pete Carroll, who had unrivaled success at USC. If Carroll can transform the Seahawks into the USC of the NFL, watch out.

I will be previewing all of the divisions. For my preview of the NFC East, click here .

To read more of Jordan's work, click here .


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