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  • NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West ..

    By ESPN.com staff | ESPN.com

    The NFC West had three teams that won at least 10 games last season, two teams in the NFC Championship Game and a team that won the Super Bowl by 35 points.

    Consequently, there is no lack of confidence about the 2014 season for the teams in this division. Three of them -- the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco ***** and Arizona Cardinals -- can make a legitimate argument for winning the division title.

    But until the ***** or the Cardinals prove otherwise, the Seahawks are the clear favorites, not only to win the division crown but to return to the Super Bowl.

    The Seahawks, however, realize the biggest obstacle to repeating as Super Bowl winners lies within their own division. The NFC West is widely regarded as the best division in the NFL. It's also the most physical division in the league, which means the division rivals tend to beat up on each other.

    Here's how Seahawks reporter Terry Blount, St. Louis Rams reporter Nick Wagoner, Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss and ***** reporter Bill Williamson see each team finishing in 2014:

    First Down
    What will the *****' record be and why?

    Terry Blount: 12-4. The ***** have a shiny new stadium, which I see them taking full advantage of and probably going unbeaten at home. Their home game against the Seahawks comes on Thanksgiving night, which likely will be a frenzied holiday crowd in front of a national TV audience. However, I don't see things going quite as smoothly on the road. I have the ***** losing at Arizona, Denver, New Orleans and Seattle. The key for San Francisco is how the team performs in a five-game midseason stretch that includes four road games -- St. Louis, Denver, New Orleans and the New York Giants. The ***** do have a bye week in that stretch, but how they get through the middle part of the schedule will determine their fate.
    Nick Wagoner: 11-5. It's awfully tempting to elevate the ***** above the Seahawks, especially after a productive offseason in which San Francisco bolstered its offense by retaining Anquan Boldin, trading for Stevie Johnson and drafting talented young playmakers Bruce Ellington and Carlos Hyde. Not to mention Michael Crabtree is healthy. It wouldn't surprise anyone to see Colin Kaepernick take a big step forward with all of those weapons at his disposal. However, it's fair to wonder if the Niners' defense can continue its dominance. They'll certainly miss NaVorro Bowman early and they have some pieces to replace in the secondary. Mostly, it's picking nits when it comes to the Niners, and I see no reason to believe this team isn't going to be a serious Super Bowl contender again.

    Josh Weinfuss: 10-6. This may be a bit on the nice side, considering the run of injuries to running backs since training camp started, but I think the *****' passing game and Colin Kaepernick's feet will make up for at least one game they'll lose because of a depleted running game. San Francisco plays a brutal schedule, facing the Cowboys, Bears, Cardinals, Eagles and Chiefs in its first five games. I don't think the road will be kind to the Niners this year, especially in the NFC West. The magic is running out for Jim Harbaugh one injury at a time.

    Bill Williamson: I'm going to say the ***** will be 12-4. They are a top team. But it's difficult to predict any team finishing higher than 12-4, although it wouldn't shock me if San Francisco finished with a better record. As long as quarterback Colin Kaepernick stays healthy, and there are no more big injuries on defense, San Francisco will win its share of games. It is a very deep and well-coached team. It knows how to win consistently. I fully expect San Francisco to start hot and stay hot.

    Second Down
    What will the Cardinals' record be and why?

    Blount: 11-5. Yes, by picking the Cardinals to win 11 games, it means I'm picking the highly unusual occurrence of three teams in one division winning 11 or more games. But I believe the NFC West is that good. Arizona won 10 games last season. The offense should be better this season with quarterback Carson Palmer having a full year in the system and an improved offensive line. I actually thought this team could move ahead of the ***** this year, but losing inside linebackers Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington is a huge blow to the defense. The biggest problem for Arizona is ending the regular season with back-to-back games against Seattle and at San Francisco. The Cardinals also have to play Seattle twice in their last six games. They will need to split those two games, and probably win on the road at Atlanta and St. Louis down the stretch, to reach the 11-win plateau.
    Wagoner: 7-9. This is probably the most difficult team to predict in the division. The Cardinals finished 2013 on such a high note that it would be easy to believe they can roll that over after a productive offseason. But it all really comes down to quarterback Carson Palmer and whether he can withstand the inevitable pressure that will come from some outstanding defenses on the schedule. The offensive line looks to be improved but still has to prove it on the field. The Cardinals could be very good defensively again, and they have some exciting pieces in the secondary; however, the loss of linebacker Daryl Washington will hurt, and they haven't gotten much younger upfront, where it might be expecting too much from older guys such as Darnell Dockett and John Abraham to duplicate their success of the recent past. Adding a difficult schedule to the mix leaves Arizona taking a bit of a step back in 2014.

    Weinfuss: 10-6. There's a lot that can go right for Arizona this year, but there's a lot that can go wrong. I think the Cardinals will start hot -- building on last season's success -- and win five of their first six. I wouldn't be surprised if they continue to tear through, but their schedule is backloaded. By midseason, offenses will figure out how to exploit the middle of the defense, which was decimated by the losses of Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington. But Arizona's offense should be potent enough to make up for any issues on defense, which will be few and far between, and simply outscore opponents.

    Williamson: I'm going with 10-6. The Cardinals had 10 wins last season and may be better in their second season under coach Bruce Arians. But I still don't think Arizona is an elite team. Saying this team will take the next step and get to 12-4 is a bit of a stretch for me, although I love the Cardinals' defense. I think Carson Palmer is a solid fit for this team. But he's still Carson Palmer. He will still ruin a few games with some untimely interceptions. Arizona is good, not great, and a 10-6 record is a solid showing by a good team.

    Third Down
    What will the Rams' record be and why?

    Blount: 6-10. This is my real shocker pick of the bunch because I'm sure most people see the Rams as a much better team than 6-10. St. Louis has an outstanding young defense, but the problem for the Rams is they play in the NFC West. Going through the division games, I don't see St. Louis doing better than 1-5. If the Rams can go 3-3 in the division, 8-8 or better is a possibility. But St. Louis just isn't on the same tier as the other three teams in the NFC West, not yet anyway. Maybe once the Rams move back to Los Angeles that will change. OK, I'm having a little futuristic fun there.
    Weinfuss: 7-9. Welcome back, Sam. You'll be returning to play in the best division in football, plus you get to play a slew of playoff teams, including the reigning AFC champion Broncos. The improvements on St. Louis' defensive line will help the Rams early, but I think it'll take some time for the offense to regain any form under Bradford. The Rams could go 3-5 during the first half of the season and find a rhythm during the final eight games, splitting them 4-4. If the vaunted NFC East plays like the division of old, the Rams could struggle to hit even that record, but their young core of receivers should help ease Bradford's return at least a little.

    Wagoner: 8-8. This is the season the Rams have targeted for a breakthrough since coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead took over in 2012. They've gone through a massive roster makeover in that time and have built this team into one that is bursting with potential, but still lacking in production. This is the season the Rams hope upside makes the transition to something more tangible, namely more wins. But it's still hard to see this team making the leap this particular year against an imposing schedule and the league's toughest division. Quarterback Sam Bradford returns from a knee injury, which should help but to what extent remains to be seen. The defensive line is probably the best and deepest in the NFL, and with Gregg Williams at coordinator, the defense should be able to keep the Rams in games. Once again, the onus to get the Rams to the next level falls on the offense. Beyond Bradford, the Rams have a talented offensive line but one that is dotted with injury questions at nearly every position. They should be able to run the ball effectively, but at some point the passing game will have to do its part. The receivers and tight ends won't be asked to carry too much freight, but that mostly young group has to be better and more consistent for the Rams to have success. Fisher has a history of getting teams to right at or around the .500 mark, as he's done his first two seasons in St. Louis. There is enough talent in place for this team to take the next step, but until we see it actually coalesce, it's hard to predict more than mediocrity.

    Williamson: I'm saying 7-9. Look, the Rams' defense -- especially the defensive line -- is nasty good. St. Louis will win games on defense. But I worry about the offense. Yes, the Rams went 7-9 in 2013 with quarterback Sam Bradford hurt for much of the season. So, a healthy Bradford could make a difference. But I just don't see Bradford as a major difference-maker, anyway. Plus, the truth is, the Rams are the worst team in a very strong division. It is going to be tough piling up wins in the NFC West, and the Rams could suffer.

    Fourth Down
    What will the Seahawks' record be and why?

    Blount: 13-3. It's been a while since any NFL team was coming off a Super Bowl and could realistically say it might be in better position to win it all now than they were a season ago, but that's the case for the Seahawks. This still is a young and deeply talented team that probably hasn't peaked yet. The receiving corps will be better this season with a healthy Percy Harvin, and the sky is the limit for quarterback Russell Wilson, who is starting only his third NFL season. The final seven games are as difficult as I've ever seen for a defending Super Bowl champ. Seattle closes with five NFC West games in the final seven, including two against the ***** and two with the Cardinals. The Seahawks also have road games at Kansas City and Philadelphia in that stretch. How they close it out will determine whether they win the division title, and it's almost mandatory if they hope to get back to the Super Bowl.
    Weinfuss: 9-7. I think the Super Bowl hangover will hit the Seahawks immediately this season, especially with Green Bay and Denver bookending their first three games. That stretch, in which I think they start 1-2, will set the tone for the rest of the season. Seattle will undoubtedly string together some wins -- I have them winning five of six in the middle of the season -- but the final seven games feature five against NFC West teams. The other two? Just against Philadelphia and Kansas City, both of whom made the playoffs a year ago. Seattle will be a different team without its free-agent departures.

    Wagoner: 12-4. On paper, the defending champions remain the class of the division. They handled their business in the offseason, prioritizing their own and keeping the ones they deemed most important. The defense should be dominant again with most of the key pieces returning and the Legion of Boom largely intact. Offensively, it's probably safe to assume quarterback Russell Wilson will continue to get better and the passing game to expand. Marshawn Lynch still has plenty in the tank and the Seahawks have some good young alternatives behind him. Seattle was able to get it done without Percy Harvin for almost all of last season, but with Golden Tate gone to Detroit, the Seahawks will need Harvin to be available and contribute consistently. The team's biggest weakness, the offensive line, will need to be better and could be with some improved health, but the Seahawks got it done behind a similar line in 2013. As with any team, injuries could severely hamper Seattle's run, especially after it lost some of its better depth players in the offseason. But all things considered, this was one of the youngest teams in the league a year ago and went on to win the Super Bowl. There's little reason to think that talent will regress with the experience and confidence that comes from the run it made in 2013.

    Williamson: I'm going with 12-4. Would I be surprised if the Seahawks went 14-2? No, but a 12-4 season is a great effort and I will start there, much like the *****. The Seahawks could easily go 8-0, or stumble once, at most, in the first half of the season. But Seattle isn't a great road team. It can be beaten on the road, especially by teams such as the *****, Panthers, Chargers, Chiefs, Panthers, Eagles and Cardinals. My guess is the Seahawks go 7-1 at home and 5-3 on the road.

  • #2
    Re: NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West ..

    Originally posted by MauiRam View Post
    By ESPN.com staff | ESPN.com

    The NFC West had three teams that won at least 10 games last season, two teams in the NFC Championship Game and a team that won the Super Bowl by 35 points.

    Consequently, there is no lack of confidence about the 2014 season for the teams in this division. Three of them -- the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco ***** and Arizona Cardinals -- can make a legitimate argument for winning the division title.

    But until the ***** or the Cardinals prove otherwise, the Seahawks are the clear favorites, not only to win the division crown but to return to the Super Bowl.

    The Seahawks, however, realize the biggest obstacle to repeating as Super Bowl winners lies within their own division. The NFC West is widely regarded as the best division in the NFL. It's also the most physical division in the league, which means the division rivals tend to beat up on each other.

    Here's how Seahawks reporter Terry Blount, St. Louis Rams reporter Nick Wagoner, Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss and ***** reporter Bill Williamson see each team finishing in 2014:

    First Down
    What will the *****' record be and why?

    Terry Blount: 12-4. The ***** have a shiny new stadium, which I see them taking full advantage of and probably going unbeaten at home. Their home game against the Seahawks comes on Thanksgiving night, which likely will be a frenzied holiday crowd in front of a national TV audience. However, I don't see things going quite as smoothly on the road. I have the ***** losing at Arizona, Denver, New Orleans and Seattle. The key for San Francisco is how the team performs in a five-game midseason stretch that includes four road games -- St. Louis, Denver, New Orleans and the New York Giants. The ***** do have a bye week in that stretch, but how they get through the middle part of the schedule will determine their fate.
    Nick Wagoner: 11-5. It's awfully tempting to elevate the ***** above the Seahawks, especially after a productive offseason in which San Francisco bolstered its offense by retaining Anquan Boldin, trading for Stevie Johnson and drafting talented young playmakers Bruce Ellington and Carlos Hyde. Not to mention Michael Crabtree is healthy. It wouldn't surprise anyone to see Colin Kaepernick take a big step forward with all of those weapons at his disposal. However, it's fair to wonder if the Niners' defense can continue its dominance. They'll certainly miss NaVorro Bowman early and they have some pieces to replace in the secondary. Mostly, it's picking nits when it comes to the Niners, and I see no reason to believe this team isn't going to be a serious Super Bowl contender again.

    Josh Weinfuss: 10-6. This may be a bit on the nice side, considering the run of injuries to running backs since training camp started, but I think the *****' passing game and Colin Kaepernick's feet will make up for at least one game they'll lose because of a depleted running game. San Francisco plays a brutal schedule, facing the Cowboys, Bears, Cardinals, Eagles and Chiefs in its first five games. I don't think the road will be kind to the Niners this year, especially in the NFC West. The magic is running out for Jim Harbaugh one injury at a time.

    Bill Williamson: I'm going to say the ***** will be 12-4. They are a top team. But it's difficult to predict any team finishing higher than 12-4, although it wouldn't shock me if San Francisco finished with a better record. As long as quarterback Colin Kaepernick stays healthy, and there are no more big injuries on defense, San Francisco will win its share of games. It is a very deep and well-coached team. It knows how to win consistently. I fully expect San Francisco to start hot and stay hot.

    Second Down
    What will the Cardinals' record be and why?

    Blount: 11-5. Yes, by picking the Cardinals to win 11 games, it means I'm picking the highly unusual occurrence of three teams in one division winning 11 or more games. But I believe the NFC West is that good. Arizona won 10 games last season. The offense should be better this season with quarterback Carson Palmer having a full year in the system and an improved offensive line. I actually thought this team could move ahead of the ***** this year, but losing inside linebackers Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington is a huge blow to the defense. The biggest problem for Arizona is ending the regular season with back-to-back games against Seattle and at San Francisco. The Cardinals also have to play Seattle twice in their last six games. They will need to split those two games, and probably win on the road at Atlanta and St. Louis down the stretch, to reach the 11-win plateau.
    Wagoner: 7-9. This is probably the most difficult team to predict in the division. The Cardinals finished 2013 on such a high note that it would be easy to believe they can roll that over after a productive offseason. But it all really comes down to quarterback Carson Palmer and whether he can withstand the inevitable pressure that will come from some outstanding defenses on the schedule. The offensive line looks to be improved but still has to prove it on the field. The Cardinals could be very good defensively again, and they have some exciting pieces in the secondary; however, the loss of linebacker Daryl Washington will hurt, and they haven't gotten much younger upfront, where it might be expecting too much from older guys such as Darnell Dockett and John Abraham to duplicate their success of the recent past. Adding a difficult schedule to the mix leaves Arizona taking a bit of a step back in 2014.

    Weinfuss: 10-6. There's a lot that can go right for Arizona this year, but there's a lot that can go wrong. I think the Cardinals will start hot -- building on last season's success -- and win five of their first six. I wouldn't be surprised if they continue to tear through, but their schedule is backloaded. By midseason, offenses will figure out how to exploit the middle of the defense, which was decimated by the losses of Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington. But Arizona's offense should be potent enough to make up for any issues on defense, which will be few and far between, and simply outscore opponents.

    Williamson: I'm going with 10-6. The Cardinals had 10 wins last season and may be better in their second season under coach Bruce Arians. But I still don't think Arizona is an elite team. Saying this team will take the next step and get to 12-4 is a bit of a stretch for me, although I love the Cardinals' defense. I think Carson Palmer is a solid fit for this team. But he's still Carson Palmer. He will still ruin a few games with some untimely interceptions. Arizona is good, not great, and a 10-6 record is a solid showing by a good team.

    Third Down
    What will the Rams' record be and why?

    Blount: 6-10. This is my real shocker pick of the bunch because I'm sure most people see the Rams as a much better team than 6-10. St. Louis has an outstanding young defense, but the problem for the Rams is they play in the NFC West. Going through the division games, I don't see St. Louis doing better than 1-5. If the Rams can go 3-3 in the division, 8-8 or better is a possibility. But St. Louis just isn't on the same tier as the other three teams in the NFC West, not yet anyway. Maybe once the Rams move back to Los Angeles that will change. OK, I'm having a little futuristic fun there.
    Weinfuss: 7-9. Welcome back, Sam. You'll be returning to play in the best division in football, plus you get to play a slew of playoff teams, including the reigning AFC champion Broncos. The improvements on St. Louis' defensive line will help the Rams early, but I think it'll take some time for the offense to regain any form under Bradford. The Rams could go 3-5 during the first half of the season and find a rhythm during the final eight games, splitting them 4-4. If the vaunted NFC East plays like the division of old, the Rams could struggle to hit even that record, but their young core of receivers should help ease Bradford's return at least a little.

    Wagoner: 8-8. This is the season the Rams have targeted for a breakthrough since coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead took over in 2012. They've gone through a massive roster makeover in that time and have built this team into one that is bursting with potential, but still lacking in production. This is the season the Rams hope upside makes the transition to something more tangible, namely more wins. But it's still hard to see this team making the leap this particular year against an imposing schedule and the league's toughest division. Quarterback Sam Bradford returns from a knee injury, which should help but to what extent remains to be seen. The defensive line is probably the best and deepest in the NFL, and with Gregg Williams at coordinator, the defense should be able to keep the Rams in games. Once again, the onus to get the Rams to the next level falls on the offense. Beyond Bradford, the Rams have a talented offensive line but one that is dotted with injury questions at nearly every position. They should be able to run the ball effectively, but at some point the passing game will have to do its part. The receivers and tight ends won't be asked to carry too much freight, but that mostly young group has to be better and more consistent for the Rams to have success. Fisher has a history of getting teams to right at or around the .500 mark, as he's done his first two seasons in St. Louis. There is enough talent in place for this team to take the next step, but until we see it actually coalesce, it's hard to predict more than mediocrity.

    Williamson: I'm saying 7-9. Look, the Rams' defense -- especially the defensive line -- is nasty good. St. Louis will win games on defense. But I worry about the offense. Yes, the Rams went 7-9 in 2013 with quarterback Sam Bradford hurt for much of the season. So, a healthy Bradford could make a difference. But I just don't see Bradford as a major difference-maker, anyway. Plus, the truth is, the Rams are the worst team in a very strong division. It is going to be tough piling up wins in the NFC West, and the Rams could suffer.

    Fourth Down
    What will the Seahawks' record be and why?

    Blount: 13-3. It's been a while since any NFL team was coming off a Super Bowl and could realistically say it might be in better position to win it all now than they were a season ago, but that's the case for the Seahawks. This still is a young and deeply talented team that probably hasn't peaked yet. The receiving corps will be better this season with a healthy Percy Harvin, and the sky is the limit for quarterback Russell Wilson, who is starting only his third NFL season. The final seven games are as difficult as I've ever seen for a defending Super Bowl champ. Seattle closes with five NFC West games in the final seven, including two against the ***** and two with the Cardinals. The Seahawks also have road games at Kansas City and Philadelphia in that stretch. How they close it out will determine whether they win the division title, and it's almost mandatory if they hope to get back to the Super Bowl.
    Weinfuss: 9-7. I think the Super Bowl hangover will hit the Seahawks immediately this season, especially with Green Bay and Denver bookending their first three games. That stretch, in which I think they start 1-2, will set the tone for the rest of the season. Seattle will undoubtedly string together some wins -- I have them winning five of six in the middle of the season -- but the final seven games feature five against NFC West teams. The other two? Just against Philadelphia and Kansas City, both of whom made the playoffs a year ago. Seattle will be a different team without its free-agent departures.

    Wagoner: 12-4. On paper, the defending champions remain the class of the division. They handled their business in the offseason, prioritizing their own and keeping the ones they deemed most important. The defense should be dominant again with most of the key pieces returning and the Legion of Boom largely intact. Offensively, it's probably safe to assume quarterback Russell Wilson will continue to get better and the passing game to expand. Marshawn Lynch still has plenty in the tank and the Seahawks have some good young alternatives behind him. Seattle was able to get it done without Percy Harvin for almost all of last season, but with Golden Tate gone to Detroit, the Seahawks will need Harvin to be available and contribute consistently. The team's biggest weakness, the offensive line, will need to be better and could be with some improved health, but the Seahawks got it done behind a similar line in 2013. As with any team, injuries could severely hamper Seattle's run, especially after it lost some of its better depth players in the offseason. But all things considered, this was one of the youngest teams in the league a year ago and went on to win the Super Bowl. There's little reason to think that talent will regress with the experience and confidence that comes from the run it made in 2013.

    Williamson: I'm going with 12-4. Would I be surprised if the Seahawks went 14-2? No, but a 12-4 season is a great effort and I will start there, much like the *****. The Seahawks could easily go 8-0, or stumble once, at most, in the first half of the season. But Seattle isn't a great road team. It can be beaten on the road, especially by teams such as the *****, Panthers, Chargers, Chiefs, Panthers, Eagles and Cardinals. My guess is the Seahawks go 7-1 at home and 5-3 on the road.
    so were gonna suck again this year? wow geee...

    so i guess were gonna suck forever because if bradford isnt the guy then it sets us back for years and we've been losing for years now ...

    ahh this is getting old....

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West ..

      Pretty much the same standings as last year for all the teams in the division. Good thing these are only predictions.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West ..

        ...old age didn’t soften Jones, who was asked in a 2008 interview if he had any regrets and answered, “Yes. . . . I’d kill more quarterbacks. That’s the only thing I could do differently."
        - Deacon Jones


        Always a Rams Fan............

        Rex Allen Markel

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West ..

          There isn't a pundit out there that doesn't give the Rams a negative mark for having Sam Bradford at QB. We're all going to have to deal with this until he either proves them wrong and us right or he's replaced. These so called experts hate him and thereby give the Rams no chance to be good. I look forward to the day he proves them wrong.
          The restoration is complete!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West ..

            Same experts that said the "dream team" Philly Eagles where Super Bowl contenders several season ago that eventually cost Andy Reid his job...sigh

            Of course am concerned about the offense as are most Ram Fans--Schotty hasn't proved to be the football genius we all hoped for so far...Yes Bradford hasn't too many big name weapons...and last seasons offense still haunts the faithful's memories. But most of us expect the "D" to put the Rams "O in positions to walk away with points and win the battle of field position. The Offense is yet to prove itself to be a consistent scoring machine.

            Further the 49whinners/Squawks/Cards have to run the Rams defensive gauntlet and its already proven the first two struggle against the Rams...add the Rams have improved on defense both in terms of talent and coordinators.

            Lastly when it comes to ESPN, I have my doubts as to the quality of their EXPERTs. About the only thing consistently expert in their EXPERTs is they find losers who are expert at getting everything wrong most of the time.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West ..

              It's been almost a decade of losing season, after losing season for this franchise. The last QB to lead this team to more than 7 wins was not named Bradford. It's certainly understandable that nobody believes in the Rams...or Bradford. What I find interesting is the way they are so thoroughly predicted to fail within the West...when they went 4-1-1 in same (and the loss was a close game), just 2 seaons ago, with a far weaker roster. The offensive line should be plenty battle tested as a result of scrimmaging vs this defense. To see this team stumble out of the gate would be real disappointing.
              "You people point your 'f'in' finger and say theres the bad guy....what that make you....good?" Tony Montana

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West ..

                Originally posted by Fargo Ram Fan View Post
                It's been almost a decade of losing season, after losing season for this franchise. The last QB to lead this team to more than 7 wins was not named Bradford. It's certainly understandable that nobody believes in the Rams...or Bradford. What I find interesting is the way they are so thoroughly predicted to fail within the West...when they went 4-1-1 in same (and the loss was a close game), just 2 seaons ago, with a far weaker roster. The offensive line should be plenty battle tested as a result of scrimmaging vs this defense. To see this team stumble out of the gate would be real disappointing.
                I think the Rams should, and need to, go 3-0 to head into the bye week. Minnesota and Dallas at home are very winnable games. Tampa I think will be a challenge, the defense is good and Lovie will have them playing solid coming out of camp. We can't go into that brutal 10 game stretch with a losing record and expect to be successful this season.
                The restoration is complete!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West ..

                  Yeah, yeah, yeah...that's how it looks on paper! The schedule (on paper) looks tough but let's wait and see how things play out on the football field.
                  sigpic :ram::helmet:

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West ..

                    Originally posted by Fargo Ram Fan View Post
                    What I find interesting is the way they are so thoroughly predicted to fail within the West...when they went 4-1-1 in same (and the loss was a close game), just 2 seaons ago, with a far weaker roster. The offensive line should be plenty battle tested as a result of scrimmaging vs this defense.
                    This is a great point in particular with regard to our defense. We may not have made the playoffs, but our D has steadily improved its roster. This year the Rams' D is finally getting some press. The only thing that is "just on paper" is how much our D will improve with the addition of Aaron Donald, Joyner and others. I believe it is reasonable to think our D will be even better with this year's infusion of new talent combined with the acquisition of Gregg Williams.

                    On offense, we are still "on paper" given our sporadic production to date. That said, we are in year three under the same OC. There isn't any reason to believe our younger players with at least a year of NFL experience under their belts will not improve. We also have 3 players on the O-line that were unavailable last year: veteran Davin Joeseph, last year's red-shirt Barrett Jones, and last but not least, the "Beast" - Gregg Robinson. The most important thing IMO is for Bradford to remain healthy and play 16 (or more) games. I can't remember what the "pundits" were saying back in 99 when we won only 3 games in 98, but I'm sure they didn't have us making a Super Bowl run. I certainly didn't. That's the thing, it isn't easy to predict when a team will gel.

                    I think most of us would agree that our roster has improved considerably since Fish/Snead took over. Maybe this year we go from baby steps to much bigger steps. It is the season of hope .. Where we really need some luck is with injuries. In the last few years our lack of depth was exposed dramatically via the injury bug - this year maybe the Squawks and Whiners will take their lumps in that department.

                    This time of year it is Kool-aid season for most every team. On that note, I'll mention the one bit of coach-speak I do take stock in; and that is Gregg Williams' recent statement that the Rams' front seven is the most talented he has ever coached. I believe him .. Kool-aid you say? Well - the "pudding" will be served very soon.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West ..

                      I hear the Shotty concern quite a bit. If he is indeed below par, why is Fish keeping him for reasons other then continuity? As the HC, I have to believe the buck stops with him. We saw what happened to Walton. If Shotty is so bad, why keep him? Maybe, just maybe, Fish think differently.......

                      The Rams went 7-9 last year with a back up QB. Our D has improved, our offense looks to be better. I expect we make a nice step forward this year. 9-7 is what would make me happy. After so many losing seasons......this would be a good thing.

                      Comment

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                      • MauiRam
                        NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West
                        by MauiRam
                        By ESPN.com staff

                        Catch us if you can.

                        That’s a message the Seattle Seahawks could send out to the rest of the NFC West.

                        It is also something the San Francisco ***** might say to the Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams. But the Cardinals and Rams might have a statement of their own: We’re coming for you.

                        By almost everyone’s estimation, the NFC West is the best division in the NFL. It includes a Super Bowl champion in Seattle along with a team in San Francisco that, arguably, came up one play short of reaching its second consecutive Super Bowl.

                        It also includes a team in Arizona that won 10 games, one of which was a victory at Seattle -- the Seahawks' only home loss in 2013. And there's a team in St. Louis that won two of its last three games to finish 7-9 while playing most of the season without starting quarterback Sam Bradford.

                        So the question heading into 2014 is whether the Cardinals and Rams are in position to catch the Seahawks and *****. Have Arizona and St. Louis closed the gap on what might be the NFL’s two best teams?

                        The Cardinals have been active in free agency, signing cornerback Antonio Cromartie, offensive tackle Jared Veldheer, tight end John Carlson, receiver/kick returner Ted Ginn, running back Jonathan Dwyer and offensive lineman Ted Larsen.

                        Clearly, the competition in this division keeps getting better.

                        The four writers who cover the division for ESPN.com’s NFL Nation -- Terry Blount in Seattle, Bill Williamson in San Francisco, Josh Weinfuss in Arizona and Nick Wagoner in St. Louis -- take a look at where things stand in the NFC West on four key topics. We also polled our Twitter followers to find how they viewed the issues.

                        First Down
                        The Cardinals have made significant moves in free agency. The Rams, aside from keeping Rodger Saffold, have mostly stood pat. Which is closer to the playoffs?

                        Terry Blount: This is a no-brainer for me. The Cardinals are a team on the rise with one of the NFL's best coaches in Bruce Arians. He took a 5-11 team and transformed it to 10-6 in one season. He was 9-3 at Indianapolis in 2012 while filling in for Chuck Pagano. Arizona was 7-2 in its last nine games and won three of the last four, with the only loss being 23-20 to the ***** in the season finale. The Cardinals could become a serious challenger to the two-team stronghold of Seattle and San Francisco. However, I do believe the Rams will have a winning season if they can hold their own in the division games.

                        Nick Wagoner: It's hard to evaluate this without seeing what happens in the draft, especially with the Rams having two premium picks. Even then it would be unfair to judge right away. Still, I have to go with the Cardinals. They were trending up at the end of the season and patched a big hole with offensive tackle Jared Veldheer. Losing Karlos Dansby...
                        -04-12-2014, 11:26 AM
                      • r8rh8rmike
                        NFL Nation: 4 Downs--NFC West
                        by r8rh8rmike
                        NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West

                        May, 29, 2014
                        By ESPN.com staff | ESPN.com

                        By almost everyone’s estimation, the rough and rugged NFC West was the best division in the NFL in 2013. It had the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, two teams in the NFC Championship Game (Seattle and the San Francisco *****) and another 10-game winner in the Arizona Cardinals. The St. Louis Rams were 7-9 but likely would have had a winning season in any other division.

                        And now? Other than adding Godzilla and three superheroes to the four teams, they could not get much better. It looks like the big boys on the NFC block will remain out west.

                        Most experts believe the Rams had one of the best drafts in the NFL, adding Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson and Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, giving St. Louis four first-round picks on what is arguably the best defensive line in football.

                        The ***** had 12 draft picks, including seven in the first four rounds, and made a trade during the draft for talented Buffalo receiver Stevie Johnson.

                        The Cardinals signed gigantic left tackle Jared Veldheer and blazing kick returner Ted Ginn in free agency. They also added a vicious hitter, Washington State safety Deone Bucannon, with their first draft pick.

                        As always happens with Super Bowl champs, the Seahawks lost a few key players to free agency, but they kept the man they really wanted to keep in defensive end Michael Bennett and locked up "Legion of Boom" stars Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman to long-term deals.

                        Believe it or not, the best division in the NFL just got better.

                        First Down

                        As usual, the Seahawks drafted some players other teams would have taken later, if at all. Should people question their choices, or have they earned the benefit of the doubt?

                        Terry Blount: Have we learned nothing from the past? Questioning Seattle's draft strategy, along with undrafted signees, now seems a little foolish. Shall I name a few who stand out that other teams passed up or the experts questioned? Sherman, Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin and Malcolm Smith, for starters. The Seahawks bring in players with specific traits -- unusual athleticism, driving competitiveness and obvious intelligence. Where those players rank on another team's draft board means nothing to them. And at first glance from rookie camp, they found some winners in receivers Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood, along with defensive end Cassius Marsh.

                        Nick Wagoner: At this point, it's hard to argue with the results the Seahawks are getting from the players they draft. It is interesting that it seems like the first-round picks (such as James Carpenter and Bruce Irvin) are the ones who seem to struggle most relative to draft position. But the thing Seattle does so well is find players who fit the confines of who they want to be on both...
                        -05-30-2014, 01:30 PM
                      • Rambos
                        Well, somebody has to win the NFC West
                        by Rambos
                        There is an increasingly strong possibility that the champion will have a losing record.

                        Not only that, a 7-9 St. Louis or Seattle or San Francisco team could wind up hosting a first-round playoff game against a team that has won 10 or 11 games, maybe more.

                        That potentially embarrassing scenario results from an NFL rule that guarantees each division champion a home playoff game.

                        With five weeks to go, Seattle and St. Louis are tied for first at 5-6, with San Francisco 4-7 and Arizona 3-8.

                        As Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck put it, "Yeah, it's weird."

                        In games outside their division, NFC West teams are 10-20. Only St. Louis is respectable at 4-4. The division has played a big role in Kansas City's revival. The AFC West-leading Chiefs have beaten San Francisco 31-10, Arizona 31-13 and Seattle 42-24.

                        The coaches of the four NFC West teams don't like to talk about the sorry state of their division. They're understandably consumed by trying to right their respective ships.

                        "I don't know. It's hard for me to speculate on that," Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said on Tuesday when asked if he thought the division winner would have a losing record.

                        Whisenhunt's Cardinals, winners of the NFC West the past two seasons, are mired in a six-game losing streak and were embarrassed on national television in a 27-6 home loss to San Francisco on Monday night.

                        "My focus right now is really worrying about what we do. As a Cardinal answer to a non-Cardinal question, I'm really worried about what we're going to do," Whisenhunt said. "I'm not worried about that right now. We have played all the three teams in our division and to me they have all been good football teams."

                        To him maybe.

                        Here is a look at the "contenders" and what they face to try to finish at least at .500.

                        —The Rams: St. Louis could have the best shot. After going 6-42 the past three seasons and 1-15 last year, the Rams are on the rise under second-year coach Steve Spagnuolo and rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. They play three of their last five against NFC West opponents. A sweep there and St. Louis could lose to Kansas City and New Orleans and still finish 8-8. It could come down to the regular-season finale at Seattle on Jan 2.

                        —The Seahawks: Seattle has allowed 76 points in its last two games, losses at New Orleans and at home against Kansas City. On the positive side, the Seahawks have a home game against the Carolina Panthers, whose only win this season was against, of course, an NFC West foe — 23-20 over San Francisco. But the Seahawks have Atlanta at home and are at Tampa Bay. Seattle might have to sweep San Francisco and St. Louis to climb to .500.

                        —The *****: San Francisco was the preseason favorite but started 0-5. The ***** have won...
                        -11-30-2010, 07:03 PM
                      • RamWraith
                        It's a two-horse race
                        by RamWraith
                        By Ira Miller
                        Special to NFL.com

                        (With the NFL regular season set to kick off on Thursday, Sept. 9, NFL.com has put together an eight-part series previewing each team division by division. Here is the NFC West.)

                        Overview

                        Realignment has not been kind to the NFC West. The division produced eight Super Bowl teams in 21 seasons prior to realignment, but in two years since the league went to its eight-division format, the NFC West has failed to even advance a team to the NFC Championship Game.

                        St. Louis finished in first place last season with a 12-4 record, and Seattle also reached the playoffs as a wild-card team at 10-6. The Seahawks had a better record within the division -- 5-1 compared to the Rams' 4-2 -- but their poor record outside the division (5-5) and their poor record on the road (2-6) kept them from finishing first. Neither team advanced after their first playoff game.

                        The Seahawks lost an overtime thriller at Green Bay, and the Rams, who had won 14 consecutive home games, lost a double-overtime game at home against Carolina.

                        Once more, these appear to be the only true playoff contenders in the division. The ***** are in a total rebuilding mode, tearing apart their offense after a 7-9 season. And the Cardinals are starting over with new coach Dennis Green after going 4-12.

                        Seattle, which has built a strong offense and is showing signs of improvement on defense, is considered the division favorite. History also favors the Seahawks. No team has repeated as NFC West champion since the ***** won the last of four consecutive titles in 1995.

                        Arizona is the only team with a new coach. The ***** will have a new starting quarterback -- Tim Rattay if he is healthy, Ken Dorsey if Rattay is not. The Cards also have a quasi-new starter because Josh McCown started only three games last season.

                        Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Rams running back Steven Jackson appear to be the two most eagerly anticipated rookies in the division. Fitzgerald was the third overall pick in the draft and Jackson was 24th. The *****, having dispatched Terrell Owens in the purge of their offense, are hoping that first-round pick Rashaun Woods can pick up the slack. Seattle expects its top two draft picks -- defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs and strong safety Michael Boulware -- to play significant roles in improving its defense.

                        Movers and shakers

                        Green took his Minnesota teams to the playoffs eight times in 10 years with seven different starting quarterbacks. It would be hard to find a coach more qualified to wade into a long-time chaotic situation. With a new stadium under construction, the Cards are perfectly positioned to begin the kind of turnaround that Tampa Bay made under Tony Dungy about a decade ago.

                        There are new defensive coordinators in St. Louis and San Francisco, both of whom...
                        -08-27-2004, 12:08 PM
                      • r8rh8rmike
                        NFC West Q&A: Are The Rams Viewed As A Real Contender
                        by r8rh8rmike
                        NFC West Q&A: Are the Rams viewed as a real contender?

                        Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer

                        Today's question: St. Louis is the only NFC West team that hasn't reached the playoffs at least once in the past two seasons. Are the Rams viewed as a real contender in the division or just more of a nuisance capable of pulling off a surprise victory?

                        Josh Weinfuss, Arizona Cardinals: Cardinals coach Bruce Arians made his stance on the Rams clear after beating them on Thursday Night Football last season, calling them "a team that is always 8-8." Defensively, I think the Rams are considered contenders, especially with that potent defensive line. Offensively, however, is where they become that "nuisance" that's capable of pulling off a victory. But if the offense can produce even a little, the defensive line is good enough to cause issues and win games.

                        Paul Gutierrez, San Francisco *****: More Lambs than Rams, you say? They have seemingly been up-and-coming for a few years now but have not been able to put it together consistently. And now that Los Angeles beckons, they have a built-in distraction as an excuse. Not that anyone in the division would ever go on the record to call the Rams a “nuisance” but that’s exactly what they’ve been, especially to the *****. They upset them in Santa Clara last year when Colin Kaepernick lost a fumble at the goal line on what would have been a winning QB sneak, one of the Rams’ mere six victories, and tied and beat them in a 7-8-1 2012 season, when the Niners were 11-4-1 and had to travel to Atlanta for the NFC title game. Either St. Louis becoming a legit contender or the team moving back to Southern California to reignite the SF-LA rivalry would elevate the Rams from nuisance, at least from the Niners' perspective.

                        Terry Blount, Seattle Seahawks: Probably more of the latter if the truth be told, but this Rams team will have a much different look with Nick Foles under center and Todd Gurley in the backfield. St. Louis could easily move past the *****, who have a ton of issues to address. I don’t see the Rams catching the Seahawks for the division title, but they have a shot at moving into the No. 2 spot ahead of the Cardinals if the Rams play up to their potential. The Rams were 6-7 last season before losing their last three games, two of which came against playoff teams Arizona and Seattle. Seven of the 10 losses came against playoff teams. It’s now or never for St. Louis, meaning do it now and move on to Los Angeles and start anew.
                        -07-10-2015, 04:15 PM
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