NFL: A Division-by-Division Look at the 2009-2010 Season, Part 8: NFC West

By Christian Binder, WSOE Sports 
 
 Arizona Cardinals (2008 Record: 9-7)
-Key Additions: RB Chris “Beanie” Wells, CB Bryant McFadden, FB Dan Kreider
-Key Losses: CB Rod Hood, RB Edgerrin James, DE/LB Travis Laboy, RB J.J. Arrington, LB Monty Beisel
 
Larry Fitzgerald, Courtesy of: zimbio.com

Larry Fitzgerald, Courtesy of: zimbio.com

The Cinderella story was nearly completed last year during the Cardinals’ improbable run to the Super Bowl. However, the Cardinals came just short of defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cardinals return this season with the same offense led by Kurt Warner and all-pro receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Chris Wells should help in the running game, but he has already struggled with injuries in the preseason. On defense, the Cardinals lost several starters, but were able to retain LB Karlos Dansby, a key piece of last year’s defense. If Kurt Warner can stay healthy for all 16 games (something he has never done in consecutive seasons), the Cardinals will have a shot at winning their division again. However, the defense will need to improve greatly with the parts it has and that seems unlikely since Clancy Pendergast is no longer the defensive coordinator. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt took over the offensive play-calling duties after former offensive coordinator Todd Haley left to become the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Look for the Cardinals to air it out this season to try to win high-scoring affairs.
 
San Francisco 49ers (2008 Record: 7-9)
-Key Additions: DE Demetric Evans, OT Marvel Smith, CB Dre Bly
-Key Losses: LB Tully Banta-Cain, QB J.T. O’Sullivan, CB Donald Strickland

Frank Gore

Frank Gore, Courtesy of: everyjoe.com

After a midseason coaching change last year, the 49ers began to show some heart. QB Shaun Hill stepped up as a real leader for the team and it looked like the 49ers might be making strides towards their former glory. However, there are still many holes on this team. The team addressed its need at wide receiver in the draft by selecting Michael Crabtree number ten overall, but he has held out all preseason and is unlikely to be signed at all. RB Frank Gore will most likely see a lot of action in both the passing and running game as he is the team’s most viable offensive weapon. The defense will also look to improve under the direction of head coach Mike Singletary, a hall-of-fame linebacker. If the 49ers can solve their problems on defense, they have a good chance to win some close games, but if not, they will wind up in the same place as they have in recent years – on the outside looking in.
 
Seattle Seahawks (2008 Record: 4-12)
-Key Additions: DT Colin Cole, LB Aaron Curry, WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, CB Ken Lucas, RB Edgerrin James, S Lawyer Milloy
-Key Losses: WR Bobby Engram, RB Maurice Morris, DT Rocky Bernard, LB Julian Peterson, RB T.J. Duckett

T.J. Houshmandzadeh

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Courtesy of: blog.oregonlive.com

 The Seahawks had a rough season last year largely due to injury. It seemed like almost everybody was getting hurt. Starting QB Matt Hasselbeck was out for a long time with a back injury and week to week, almost every running back on the roster had some injury. The Seahawks addressed the need at wide receiver by signing free agent T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who gives Matt Hasselbeck a legitimate number-one option at receiver. If WR Deion Branch can remain healthy, the Seahawks could have a very dangerous passing game, especially since TE John Carlson is poised for a breakout season. The defense got better with rookie Aaron Curry stepping in to fill the hole left by the departed Julian Peterson and defensive backs Ken Lucas and Lawyer Milloy shoring up what was a weak pass defense. The Seahwaks seem to be the darling team this year and could surprise many people.
St. Louis Rams (2008 Record: 2-14)
-Key Additions: QB Kyle Boller, OT Jason Smith, LB James Laurinaitas
-Key Losses: WR Torry Holt, OT Orlando Pace, LB Pisa Tinoisamoa\

Chris Long (left), Courtesy of: static.nfl.com

Chris Long (left), Courtesy of: static.nfl.com

 The Rams had a disastrous season last year and really have nowhere to go but up. However, that is easier said than done. New head coach Steve Spagnuolo will look to build up the defense like he did with the New York Giants, but he has to worry about how his team plays on both sides of the ball. RB Steven Jackson is solid, but he has yet to put up anything like the numbers he did in 2006. QB Marc Bulger will have to try to stay healthy for a full season, but that is unlikely since the offensive line is very shaky and he will likely take a lot of hits. The team is also without a number-one option at wide receiver since Torry Holt was released. The defense has a couple of stars on it and DE Chris Long will try to live up to the play of his father, but it could be quite some time before the Rams play a meaningful game.
 
Contact Information:
Christian Binder
WSOE Sports
cbinder@elon.edu
 
 
 

 

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