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Rams are the best pick among a weak west

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  • Rams are the best pick among a weak west

    AP Football Writer

    The fashionable pick in the NFC West these days seems to be Arizona.
    We're not going to be fashionable, although the Cardinals are improved
    and should reach the .500 mark for the first time since 1998, when
    they were 9-7.

    And an 8-8 record could sneak off with this weak division, where only
    the ***** aren't good enough to contend.

    Still, the Rams should have plenty of offense and just enough defense
    to overcome any challenges - and overcome coach Mike Martz's sometimes
    strange sideline decisions.

    Seattle seems too fragile and must prove it can beat the Rams, who
    swept three meetings with the Seahawks last year.

    These are not quite the Rams who dominated the early decade with a
    scintillating passing attack and the magical Marshall Faulk. Steven
    Jackson has usurped Faulk as the starting running back, and Marc
    Bulger long ago took over for Kurt Warner, who is now with the

    "When he has that adrenaline going, he's tough to bring down," Bulger
    says of Jackson, in his second pro season. "You give him a little bit
    of a crease, his legs are so big and he's so strong that he's tough to
    bring down."

    The receiving corps remains dynamic as long as Torry Holt and Isaac
    Bruce are around, and Rams fans are excited about Kevin Curtis and
    Shaun McDonald. Bulger could have more options than Warner did -if
    Jackson is as good as advertised and Faulk still has some of his touch
    - and the line is one of the NFL's best.

    For St. Louis to do better than the 8-8 that got it into the playoffs
    as a wild card, it needs a less-charitable defense. The Rams yielded
    an ugly 392 points last season, 12th in the NFC.

    That prompted a bunch of moves, particularly at linebacker (Dexter
    Coakley and Chris Claiborne) and in the secondary, where starting CB
    Jerametrius Butler already is gone with a wrecked knee. If the Rams
    can cover people and get the usual pass rush from end Leonard Little,
    plus improved performances from the LBs, they should be the class of
    the division.

    Watch for DT Jimmy Kennedy and end Anthony Hargrove to support Little,
    which should help the so-so secondary.

    "We played pretty well on the defensive line last year and I felt like
    our linebacker play wasn't what it needed to be," Martz said. "We've
    made the personnel changes, and it was significant. This is as excited
    as I've been about a defense here."

    They're excited about defense in the desert, too. Indeed, the
    Cardinals are showing more signs of life in all areas than at any time
    recently, and if the Rams remain a .500 team, Arizona could steal the

    Only the Eagles and Redskins in the NFC gave up fewer points than the
    Cardinals last year, and Arizona's unit is young and growing quickly.
    Top draftee Antrel Rolle is the best cover cornerback on the team, and
    he hasn't even played a real game yet, which says something about the
    secondary. But the rest of the aggressive D is very promising, led by
    tackle Darnell Dockett, ends Bertrand Berry and Chike Okeafor and
    linebacker Karlos Dansby.

    There may even be contributions from Calvin Pace, the 18th overall
    pick in the 2003 draft who has been a bust in two seasons, but has had
    a strong summer.

    "When you're a first-round pick, and you get sat down for two games,
    you start evaluating a lot of things," Pace says. "It's embarrassing
    to have to tell your family `I'm not playing this week because I'm not
    getting it done.'"

    If the offense gets it done with Warner and a potentially overwhelming
    receiving crew of Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Bryant Johnson,
    Arizona should challenge St. Louis. But the offensive line is sketchy
    and the running game might be in the hands and on the feet of a
    rookie, J.J. Arrington.

    Seattle need not worry about its running game, unless Shaun Alexander
    gets hurt - or is still stung by losing the rushing title to Curtis
    Martin by a yard. Alexander not only is a prime rusher, but he gets
    into the end zone (20 TDs).

    He'll work behind two Pro Bowl blockers, Walter Jones and Steve
    Hutchinson, and with streaky quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. If
    Hasselbeck gets back to the level of his 2003 performance, the passing
    game might be noteworthy. But the receivers are so-so, unless
    newcomers Joe Jurevicius and Jerome Pathon provide a boost.

    Coach Mike Holmgren has had longtime cohort Ray Rhodes running his
    defense in Seattle, to unsatisfactory results. Indeed, this is not a
    fundamentally sound team on either side of the ball.

    For the Seahawks to contend, they must improve the pass rush - a
    healthy Grant Wistrom might do that - and their tackling. The special
    teams have been weak, too.

    There's weakness all over the place for the rebuilding *****, who won
    only two times last year and could be hard-pressed to surpass that in

    Already, top overall draftee Alex Smith has lost the quarterbacking
    spot to Tim Rattay, which says a lot about Smith's development so far.
    The Niners, for the first time in memory, have no standout receivers,
    though Brandon Lloyd shows promise, and an unreliable running game if
    Kevan Barlow can't stay interested.

    The defense under new coach Mike Nolan and with star linebacker Julian
    Peterson returning to anchor a 3-4 setup, seems slightly more
    promising. The Niners actually might have one of the conference's
    better units, but it could be under siege with such a struggling

  • #2
    Re: Rams are the best pick among a weak west

    We get some love!


    • #3
      Re: Rams are the best pick among a weak west

      why is san fransisco's name always censored?


      • #4
        Re: Rams are the best pick among a weak west

        Originally posted by Rams Guy 31
        why is san fransisco's name always censored?
        Because it is an Evil utterance that invokes thoughts of that most Un-Holy of schemes, the West-Coast Offense.

        Oh, and they suck and they're our eternal division rivals, too.


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