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  • NFC West preview: Picking Rams, but Cardinals tempting

    Sep. 1, 2005
    By Clark Judge
    CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
    Tell Clark your opinion!


    The only certainty in the NFC West is the San Francisco *****. They're dead last and staying there for at least another season.

    That's not an indictment of new coach Mike Nolan. The club simply doesn't have the players he and his coaching staff need to resuscitate a 2-14 patient. So the ***** finish fourth. Now what?


    Torry Holt and the Rams look like the most dangerous crew in a jumbled division. (AP)
    Well, based on what I saw Monday night, I still like the Rams. I know, they lost defensive back Jerametrius Butler for the season, and their defense leaked like the S.S. Minnow in a preseason loss to San Diego. But these guys showed signs of brilliance Monday night, and the last time Mike Martz had a non-winning season, he followed with a division title.

    Make them the favorite in a photo finish with Arizona.

    The Cardinals could make their first trip to the playoffs since 1998 -- and maybe they should, given the condition of this division -- but I don't know if Kurt Warner can last 16 games. Heck, 12 games. If he plays three-quarters of the season, they have a shot, but Warner hasn't played more than nine games in any year since 2001.

    Then there's defending division champ Seattle, but for every player they kept -- and there were key re-signings of Matt Hasselbeck, Walter Jones and Shaun Alexander -- they lost another to free-agency. I'm afraid the outlook is as gloomy as the weather in January.

    Mike Martz bashers, you better sit this one out.

    St. Louis Rams
    Most significant additions: LB Chris Claiborne, LB Dexter Coakley, DB Michael Hawthorne, T Rex Tucker, TE Roland Williams, special teams coach Bob Ligashesky.

    Predicted Order of Finish
    1. Rams 2004: 8-8 Rank
    Pt. Scored: 319
    Pt. Allowed: 392
    Offense: 367.3
    Defense: 334.6
    19
    25
    6
    17

    2. Cardinals 2004: 6-10 Rank
    Pt. Scored: 284
    Pt. Allowed: 322
    Offense: 284.4
    Defense: 321.3
    26
    12
    27
    12

    3. Seahawks 2004: 9-7 Rank
    Pt. Scored: 371
    Pt. Allowed: 373
    Offense: 352.1
    Defense: 351.3
    12
    22
    8
    26

    4. ***** 2004: 2-14 Rank
    Pt. Scored: 259
    Pt. Allowed: 452
    Offense: 286.2
    Defense: 342.6
    30
    32
    26
    24

    Most significant subtractions: QB Chris Chandler, S Rich Coady, DE Bryce Fisher, G Matt Lehr, T Kyle Turley, T Chris Terry.

    Biggest offseason move: Overhauling their linebackers with the acquisitions of Coakley and Claiborne.

    Will make the playoffs if ... they figure out how to play special teams.

    Won't make the playoffs if ... they don't improve the league's 29th-ranked rush defense.

    Rookie to watch: First-round draft pick Alex Barron is the fourth tackle, so you'd better forget him until next year. Watch fourth-round pick Jerome Carter instead. The first rookie to sign, he made an impact in offseason workouts and looks like a born leader at strong safety.

    Overview: The Rams flexed their muscle for national TV last Monday, and I was impressed. I saw them against San Diego; I saw them against Detroit. "This is the team we are," Martz said after demolishing the Lions. He'd better hope so. I like what I see in running back Steven Jackson, and quarterback Marc Bulger looks accurate, poised and confident. "We're deep," said Martz. "This could be a special team."

    Arizona Cardinals
    Most significant additions: QB Kurt Warner, DE Chike Okeafor, T Oliver Ross, S Robert Griffith, LB Orlando Huff, CB Raymond Walls.

    Most significant subtractions: T Anthony Clement, CB Renaldo Hill, TE Freddie Jones, QB Shaun King, T L.J. Shelton, RB Emmitt Smith, CB Duane Starks, LB Ray Thompson, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, LB LeVar Woods.

    Biggest offseason move: Signing Warner. It provides stability at a position where there was none.

    Will make the playoffs if ... they figure out how to beat San Francisco.

    Won't make the playoffs if ... Denny Green starts playing a shell game with his quarterbacks again.

    Rookie to watch: Running back J.J. Arrington. If he's only half as good as he was at Cal last year, he improves this offense. The Cards desperately need a rushing attack, and he was a second-round steal.

    Overview: It's tempting to pick these guys to win the division. Green has proved he can win with just about anyone at quarterback -- Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon -- and Warner is perfect for him. Plus, Green did a good job of scouring the free-agent market and landing players who improve his club. Still ... they're the Arizona Cardinals. It's hard to imagine these guys in the playoffs, but this could be the season.

    Seattle Seahawks
    Most significant additions: DT Chartric Darby, CB Andre Dyson, DE Bryce Fisher, CB Kelly Herndon, WR Joe Jurevicius, LB Jamie Sharper, RB Josh Scobey, WR Peter Warrick.


    Who will win the NFC West?

    Rams
    Seahawks
    Cardinals
    *****



    Most significant subtractions: LB Chad Brown, LB Orlando Huff, CB Ken Lucas, DT Brandon Mitchell, DE Chike Okeafor, WR Jerry Rice, S Damien Robinson, CB Bobby Taylor, LB Anthony Simmons, WR Koren Robinson.

    Biggest offseason move: Re-signing running back Shaun Alexander. All he did last year was rush for 1,696 yards and score 20 times.

    Will make the playoffs if ... they ever solve a defense that starts leaking oil about mid-October.

    Won't make the playoffs if ... they can't beat St. Louis, and they lost three times to the Rams a year ago.

    Rookie to watch: Linebacker Lafa Tatupu is locked in a battle with Niko Koutouvides for a starting job. Tatupu was the club's second-round choice, and the only part of his game that's missing at the moment is experience.

    Overview: They won the division a year ago, but it's hard to see the Seahawks repeating with the departures of people like Chad Brown, Ken Lucas and Chike Okeafor. This was a club that would break your heart a year ago -- close until one of their wide receivers saluted a pass. I don't think they're better than they were at the end of last season, and I know of at least two clubs -- St. Louis and Arizona -- that are.

    San Francisco
    Most significant additions: Coach Mike Nolan, Marques Douglas, T Jonas Jennings, K Joe Nedney, CB Willie Middlebrooks, WR Johnnie Morton.

    Most significant subtractions: WR Cedrick Wilson, DE John Engelberger, T Scott Gragg, S Ronnie Heard, G Kyle Kosier, K Todd Peterson, CB Jimmy Williams.

    Most significant offseason move: Acquiring quarterback Alex Smith. He won't open the season for the *****, but you can bet he will close it. Is he the next Young or Montana? Time will tell.

    Will make the playoffs if ... the rest of the division takes the season off.

    Won't make the playoffs if ... they don't find a genie.

    Rookie to watch: It has to be Alex Smith. He's not starting now, but he will -- and the future of this franchise is hitched to the $24 million man.

    Overview: The ***** weren't bad last year; they were dreadful. And there are too many holes to fill to expect them to move anywhere but to the opposite corner of the basement. They overspent for Smith; they overspent for Jennings; they let Wilson and Kosier walk. I don't know what the plan is here, but I'm intrigued to see how it all turns out. We may have to wait a year for our answer.

  • #2
    Re: NFC West preview: Picking Rams, but Cardinals tempting

    Well, based on what I saw Monday night, I still like the Rams. I know, they lost defensive back Jerametrius Butler for the season, and their defense leaked like the S.S. Minnow in a preseason loss to San Diego.
    Gilligan died. Poor little buddy.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: NFC West preview: Picking Rams, but Cardinals tempting

      This is a duplicate post to the one thats 5 days old now.
      "Picking Rams, but Cardinals tempting (NFC West Preview)"

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: NFC West preview: Picking Rams, but Cardinals tempting

        sorry my bad did not see it...

        Comment

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        • Guest's Avatar
          Picking Rams, but Cardinals tempting (NFC West Preview)
          by Guest
          By Clark Judge CBS Sportsline

          The only certainty in the NFC West is the San Francisco *****. They're dead last and staying there for at least another season.

          That's not an indictment of new coach Mike Nolan. The club simply doesn't have the players he and his coaching staff need to resuscitate a 2-14 patient. So the ***** finish fourth. Now what?


          Torry Holt and the Rams look like the most dangerous crew in a jumbled division. (AP)
          Well, based on what I saw Monday night, I still like the Rams. I know, they lost defensive back Jerametrius Butler for the season, and their defense leaked like the S.S. Minnow in a preseason loss to San Diego. But these guys showed signs of brilliance Monday night, and the last time Mike Martz had a non-winning season, he followed with a division title.

          Make them the favorite in a photo finish with Arizona.

          The Cardinals could make their first trip to the playoffs since 1998 -- and maybe they should, given the condition of this division -- but I don't know if Kurt Warner can last 16 games. Heck, 12 games. If he plays three-quarters of the season, they have a shot, but Warner hasn't played more than nine games in any year since 2001.

          Then there's defending division champ Seattle, but for every player they kept -- and there were key re-signings of Matt Hasselbeck, Walter Jones and Shaun Alexander -- they lost another to free-agency. I'm afraid the outlook is as gloomy as the weather in January.

          Mike Martz bashers, you better sit this one out.


          St. Louis Rams
          Most significant additions: LB Chris Claiborne, LB Dexter Coakley, DB Michael Hawthorne, T Rex Tucker, TE Roland Williams, special teams coach Bob Ligashesky.

          Predicted Order of Finish
          1. Rams
          2. Cardinals
          3. Seahawks
          4. *****

          Most significant subtractions: QB Chris Chandler, S Rich Coady, DE Bryce Fisher, G Matt Lehr, T Kyle Turley.

          Biggest offseason move: Overhauling their linebackers with the acquisitions of Coakley and Claiborne.

          Will make the playoffs if ... they figure out how to play special teams.

          Won't make the playoffs if ... they don't improve the league's 29th-ranked rush defense.

          Rookie to watch: First-round draft pick Alex Barron is the fourth tackle, so you'd better forget him until next year. Watch fourth-round pick Jerome Carter instead. The first rookie to sign, he made an impact in offseason workouts and looks like a born leader at strong safety.

          Overview: The Rams flexed their muscle for national TV last Monday, and I was impressed. I saw them against San Diego; I saw them against Detroit. "This is the team we are," Martz said after demolishing the Lions. He'd better hope so. I like what I see in running back Steven Jackson, and quarterback...
          -09-01-2005, 06:32 PM
        • Nick
          2004 NFL PREVIEW: Team Forecasts & Early Predictions - NFC West
          by Nick
          2004 NFL PREVIEW: Team Forecasts & Early Predictions - Part II NFC West
          Monday, August 16, 2004
          By Drew Cook
          Courtesy of PrimeSportsPicks.com


          Part I of our 2004 NFL Preview covered the NFC East & in Part II we will breakdown the NFC West. Upcoming articles will feature the remaining divisions. Again, our team forecasts are designed to provide insight on predicting total teams wins, so that you can take advantage of the value found in wagering on the Total Team Wins futures propositions.

          NFC West
          -Seattle Seahawks: Prediction Over 9 Wins - In 2004, the Seattle Seahawks may just be the team to beat in the NFC. Coming out of the relatively weak NFC West, Seattle should head into the season as the division favorite with the Rams as their only true competition. The Seahawks were (5-1) in their division last year and a perfect (8-0) at home, but if they are going to go far this year, they must improve on their (2-6) road record. It appears that the schedule makers were paying attention to these numbers because Seattle will not only play their first 2 games of the season on the road, but also six of their first nine games as well. If the Seahawks can keep things together during this early stretch on the road, they will have a great opportunity to finish the season strong playing 5 of their last 7 games at home.

          On offense the Seahawks should once again be very solid with all of their skill players returning - (QB) Matt Hasselbeck (26 td's in 2003), (RB) Shaun Alexander (1,435 yards & 14 td's), (WR) Darrell Jackson and (WR) Koren Robinson. This unit ranked #7 in scoring last year, averaging over 25 points per game.

          The defense made some serious progress in 2003, but could have trouble due to the departure of several players - (DT) John Randle, (LB) Randall Godfrey, (SS) Reggie Tongue, and (CB) Shawn Springs. However, in their place the Seahawks have brought in (DE) Grant Wistrom from division rival St. Louis and (CB) Bobby Taylor from Philadelphia and drafted Marcus Tubbs from Texas in the first-round. Taylor and second-year CB Marcus Trufant will make up a formidable duo in the secondary, which could should give receivers all they can handle.

          With Mike Holmgren & Ray Rhodes having all these tools at their disposal, Seattle should once again be a serious force in the NFC West. Look for the Seahawks to improve on their (2-6) road record and surpass the 9 win mark in 2004.


          -St. Louis Rams: Prediction Over 9.5 Wins - Coming off a 12 win season, the Rams have done little in the free-agent market to alter their team. Offensively they were awesome in 2003, racking up 447 points, good for the second most in the league. (QB) Marc Bulger will once again lead this impressive unit with (RB) Marshall Faulk, (WR) Torry Holt and (WR) Isaac Bruce. Holt showed that he is one of the games best receivers leading the league...
          -08-16-2004, 10:46 PM
        • RamWraith
          Rams are the best pick among a weak west
          by RamWraith
          By BARRY WILNER
          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
          Cardinals.

          "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,...
          -08-30-2005, 05:40 PM
        • Goldenfleece
          NFC West Training Camp Preview
          by Goldenfleece
          Courtesy of SI.com's Don Banks:

          NFC West training-camp preview
          'Zona gains an Edge, new-look Rams, avoiding jinxes


          Team on the rise

          The Cardinals landed four-time Pro Bowler Edgerrin James very early in the free-agency period.

          ARIZONA

          Stop us if you've heard this one before, but the Arizona Cardinals are better. And, yes, we did say the same thing last year at this time, right before the Cardinals went out and hung up a 5-11 mark, dropping head coach Dennis Green's two-year record in the desert to 11-21. So what's so different about this year's Cardinals? For starters, there's a fresh air of anticipation for football season in Arizona thanks to the opening of a new stadium in suburban Phoenix and the free-agent signing of ex-Colts running back Edgerrin James. The signing of James has to boost the fortunes of a Cardinals running game that ranked dead last in the league in 2005, but what remains to be seen is whether Arizona did enough to improve its dreadful offensive-line play. The Cardinals drafted USC guard Deuce Lutui in the second round and he'll start right away. Arizona's passing game ranked first in the NFL last season and now quarterback-of-the-future Matt Leinart is on hand should starter Kurt Warner falter or turn fragile. The Cardinals can move the ball in the air, but they need to get much better in the red zone to have legitimate playoff hopes. Defensively, Arizona has great young talent, but it has yet to prove it can win a game on its own. Despite finishing in the top 10 two years running, it's time for coordinator Clancy Pendergast's unit to start distinguishing itself.

          Team in transition
          ST. LOUIS

          Every early indication says these are not your father's St. Louis Rams. The Greatest Show on Turf era is long gone, and if the Rams follow their new blueprint to success this season, no one will accuse them of being a finesse team anymore. Under new head coach Scott Linehan, St. Louis wants to get more physical on both sides of the ball and beef up a running attack that took a backseat to the high-flying passing game favored by former offensive coordinator and head coach Mike Martz. The Rams used the draft to focus on the tight end position, taking both Colorado's Joe Klopfenstein and USC's Dominique Byrd in the first three rounds, and while St. Louis will still throw the ball plenty, clearing the way for running back Steven Jackson will be the top priority on offense. The Rams made two key additions on defense: hiring former Saints head coach Jim Haslett as coordinator and signing Carolina outside linebacker Will Witherspoon, whose playmaking skills will be featured. Haslett, a noted tough guy, knows how to mold a swarming, aggressive unit, and he could be the perfect fit for the mentality St. Louis wants to adopt.

          Coach in the spotlight
          DENNIS GREEN, ARIZONA

          When he took the Cardinals...
          -07-20-2006, 04:57 AM
        • 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
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