Often considered the worst division in the NFL, the NFC West is on the way up with the 49ers leading the charge. San Francisco almost made it to the Super Bowl last season and will look to go one better after adding some depth to their receiving core. The Cardinals missed out on the top prize this off-season, Peyton Manning, and the Seahawks overpaid for Matt Flynn, who has only started 2 games in his career. St. Louis had a horrible season finishing 2-14, they signed top cornerback free agent Cortland Finnegan this off-season. Will the 49ers continue their dominance from last season or will another team step up and win the division?
(2011 Record) 2012 Projected Record
1. San Francisco 49ers (13-3) 11-5
The 49ers made a late push to acquire Peyton Manning in free agency, but were unsuccessful and risked losing Alex Smith, although he stayed with the team signing a three-year deal. Former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs signed a one-year contract and Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham joined San Francisco on a two-year deal. They also signed veteran receiver Randy Moss to a one-year contract. Other signings were C.J. Spillman, Carlos Rogers, Ted Ginn Jr, Josh Johnson and they placed the franchise tag on Dashon Goldson. Expect the 49ers to have a solid season this year and make another playoff appearance, but with a tough schedule they won’t have a 13-3 record like last season. They have to play the Packers, Saints, Patriots and Jets away from the Bay Area. If their defense can have another great year, the 49ers could go one better and take home the Lombardi Trophy.
2. Seattle Seahawks (7-9) 9-7
Seattle was never a chance to land Manning, so they signed former Packers back up quarterback Matt Flynn to a three-year contract. Marshawn Lynch will be their main focus on offense heading forward, after signing a four-year, $31 million deal. Other signings were Michael Robinson, Frank Omiyale, Red Bryant, Deuce Lutui and Barrett Ruud. The Seahawks could push for a playoff spot after finishing the season well, but they will need more production from wide out Sidney Rice. Do you think Matt Flynn is the solution for Seattle at the quarterback position?
3. Arizona Cardinals (8-8) 8-8
Many people thought Arizona was the perfect fit for Peyton Manning, but they ended up paying Kevin Kolb the $7 million roster bonus. If he can stay healthy and play more than 9 games like last season, the Cardinals could be the second best team in the division. Larry Fitzgerald will have another great season no matter who throws the ball to him, but it won’t be easy with some difficult road games against top teams. They must improve their performances away from the University of Phoenix Stadium, with only 2 wins on the road last season. Levi Brown, Early Doucet, Jay Feely and William Gay were some of the players signed this off-season.
4. St. Louis Rams (2-14) 5-11
After a horrible season when the Rams only managed to win two games, they decided to trade the second overall pick in the draft to Washington in exchange for the sixth overall pick and future first round picks. Young quarterback Sam Bradford needs another offensive weapon besides Steven Jackson, last year St. Louis had the worst offense in the NFL. Drafting Justin Blackmon would be a smart choice, but he probably will be taken before the Rams’ first pick. Cortland Finnegan was their main signing in the off-season, they also signed Scott Wells and Steve Smith. This could be another long season for the Rams, especially with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams being suspended indefinitely, but they should be able to pick up a few more wins then last season.
Written By – Tom Mullins- News Updates and NFC West Writer
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