2013 NFL Preseason Predictions: NFC West (Trifone)
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Here are my 2013 NFL preseason predictions for the NFC West:
1. San Francisco 49ers (schedule): 12-4
The 49ers were the best and most complete team in football last year. They fell short of winning the Super Bowl against a hot Ravens team, but are probably the league’s most formidable team on both sides of the ball.
The team parted ways with Alex Smith in the offseason, so there will be a lot of pressure on Colin Kaepernick to perform. His athleticism, strong arm, and versatility give him a unique advantage against defenses. The addition of Anquan Boldin to Frank Gore and Vernon Davis will give the 49ers quarterback plenty of options, especially once Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham return from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
I’d make the Niners the favorite to win it all entering the season.
2. Seattle Seahawks (schedule): 10-6
Seattle emerged as one of the best teams in the league last year, mainly because of Russell Wilson. The Seahawks have had a solid defense that has been improving over the years, and their 12th-man advantage is second to none.
The question with them was always the offense, and more specifically, the quarterback. Now that they have Russell Wilson, if he can continue to play at the level he did down the stretch, it’s no wonder that Seattle is a Super Bowl pick for many. Marshawn Lynch didn’t earn the nickname Beast Mode for nothing, and Golden Tate has come on as a reliable wideout. The acquisition of Percy Harvin was a tremendous one for Seattle until he injured his hip during training camp.
Even without him, though, Seattle is clearly among this year’s favorites.
3. St. Louis Rams (schedule): 8-8
Jeff Fisher has done a tremendous job with the Rams. They finished 7-8-1 last year, with two of the toughest teams in the league in the same division.
They’ll have to hope that their young running back, Daryl Richardson, can do a sufficient job replacing Steven Jackson, who had been a workhorse for the franchise for several years. They also need to see Sam Bradford elevate his game if he is going to be the franchise quarterback that Fisher expects him to be.
If not for the division they’re in, I’d likely have the Rams finish with a stronger record than .500, but I think they’d be lucky to go 1-3 against the Seahawks and 49ers, leaving them at 7-5 against the rest of the league.
4. Arizona Cardinals (schedule): 3-13
Carson Palmer is an upgrade at quarterback, but at this point in his career, I’m not sure how much. Peterson and company did a good job defending the pass, but the Cardinals were 28th against the run, and their offense was ranked 28th and 32nd in rushing and passing, respectively. You’re just not going to win many games when you’re 28th against the run and 32nd rushing the ball.
The Cardinals are likely to get battered within the division, and I only have them winning three overall.
All of our contributors will make their division and Super Bowl picks and we will track those on this centralized predictions page.