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Odds Have Cardinals Favored to Repeat in NFC West
If this were any other division, I'd say the Cardinals would have their work cut out for them. Any Super Bowl team, winner or loser, starts the next season with a big fat bulls eye on their backs. They'll get every other teams best shot. Add in the fact that Kurt Warner isn't far from being able to collect Social Security and you could easily see a rough year ahead. But in the NFC West, the competition looks thin. Perhaps their biggest threat will be the 49ers. But at odds of a little better than even money to win the West, we'll stick with the front runners here. They still appear to have the most talent.
Here is a look at each NFC West team along with their current odds to win the division Courtesy of Sportsbook.com
Arizona Cardinals (Odds to win NFC West +130) - While they came up just short in last years Super Bowl, they proved to everyone in the league that they are a gritty contender. QB Kurt Warner is not only a great person, but an amazing player. He can pick apart a blitz better than anyone in the NFL, and he has one of the fastest releases I have ever seen; even at 38. He has an MVP candidate in WR Larry Fitzgerald, and another reliable threat in Anquion Bouldin.
Drafting RB Chris “Beanie” Wells in the first round fills a major hole in the offense. Wells is a tough back, but can be susceptible to injury. The defensive line is mediocre, but is aided by second round draft pick DE Cody Brown. The Cardinals allowed 426 points last year, so improved production from the defense is a dire need. Arizona is the cream of the crop in the NFC West and should repeat as champs. This team isn’t going anywhere anytime soon!
Seattle Seahawks (Odds to win NFC West +175) - Like the Rams, this team has seen better days. They made big waves in free agency, picking up T.J. Houshmanzadeh. I’ve had the privilege to watch T.J. for several years, and he will do a stellar job in Seattle. He is always near the top of the league in number of catches. T.J. is very gritty and always plays his best when the most is on the line. He was nicknamed the “Steeler Killer” here in Cincinnati, because he ALWAYS played well against them. Julius Jones will also be a great help this year. While he hasn’t performed like he did in Dallas during his first two seasons with Seattle, he will get many more carries this year.
Problems for the Seahawks lie with the defense. They ranked 30th overall last year, and it doesn’t look like they will be getting much better. They do fairly well against the run, thanks to an excellent linebacker corps. However, the defensive line is below average, and the same can be said of the secondary. QB Matt Hasselbeck is getting old at 34, but is still a strong passer and a fierce competitor. Making the playoffs isn’t likely, but the Seahawks won’t fail to entertain loyal fans.
San Francisco 49ers (Odds to win NFC West +250) - Mike Singletary did a wonderful job after taking over as head coach in week 8 last year. He helped the 49ers to end the year 5-4, and won five of the last seven games. He is adopting a “hard work” style and is intensely conditioning his team for the coming season. QB Shaun Hill is 7-3 as a starter, but has plenty of doubters. He caught a break when the 49ers picked up Michael Crabtree with their first round pick. Crabtree did a great job during his time at Texas Tech, and will give this team the shot in the arm it needs at WR.
Frank Gore is a powerful runner, but he saw a sharp reduction in yardage last year. Picking up Glen Coffee in the third round this year was a wise move. He will be able to take some of the pressure off Gore, thus making him more productive. The offensive and defensive lines are the weakest part of the team in San Francisco. The 49ers tied for 31st in the NFL in turnover difference. The secondary must do a better job in getting to INTs. The 49ers won’t be taking off any plays thanks to Singletary, but let’s wait and see if his style is effective before jumping on the bandwagon.
St. Louis Rams (Odds to win NFC West 8/1) - After last year’s horrendous 2-14 record, the Rams will try to recover and bring back the dominance they saw under the guidance of Kurt Warner as the “Greatest Show on Turf”. Seven time Pro Bowler Tory Holt was cut from the team. Despite his age, he could have still been useful, especially since this team is severally lacking in the WR department. Marc Bulger is a two time pro bowler, but has seen his career take a nose dive recently. He hasn’t had the best of help, as the line has been poor and as previously stated the WRs are also bad.
Drafting C Jason Smith with the #2 overall pick will provide an instant boost to the line. The defense must improve, as it ranked 28th overall last year. RB Steven Jackson is one of the bright spots on the team. He has power and speed and is a quick mover. He also has nice pass catching skills. The Rams will continue to rebuild, and it would come as a major shock if they were able to compete this year.