2013 NFL Preseason Predictions: NFC West (Beazley)
Here are my 2013 NFC West preseason picks:
1. San Francisco 49ers (schedule): 11-5
The 49ers are definitely the favorites to repeat in the NFC in my opinion. Colin Kaepernick is now the full-time starter and if he played the way he did down the stretch last year, the 49ers will be tough to beat. The 49ers have a very good offense, and the addition of WR Anquan Boldin was huge. Boldin has been a leader in the locker room, which is huge for this somewhat young offense. The best part of Boldin's game is not is hands or route running, it is his blocking. Boldin is the NFL's best blocking WR hands down and is arguably one of the best of all time. This is something that will be huge for a team who loves to run the ball.
The 49ers defense is as good as advertised, and it starts with Patrick Willis, who is the best LB in the game right now. If Willis is 1, then Aldon Smith is 1A. Smith tallied 19.5 sacks last year, and should be ready for another big season in 2013. If the offense has a day off, this defensive unit is good enough to win games by themselves.
2. Seattle Seahawks (schedule): 10-6
The Seahawks were dealt a huge blow this preseason when Percy Harvin was injured. Harvin was Seattle's missing link on offense. Harvin is reportedly ahead of progress right now, but I don't expect to see him back until at least the second half of the season. Seattle's success is going to rely on second-year QB Russell Wilson. Wilson is one of those new QBs who can beat you with his arm or his legs. If he can avoid the sophmore jinx, the Seahawks could go a long way in the postseason.
Seattle has one of the league's best pair of corners in Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. This team lacks that one dominant player on their front seven, but collectively is one of the fiercest units in football. Let's not forget about the 12th man either. Seattle has one of the biggest home field advantages in football.
3. St.Louis Rams (schedule): 7-9
Like the Browns, who I think are on the rise, the Rams fall victim to having two superior teams in their division. They could challenge for a wildcard in just about any other division in football. The Rams have finally surrounded Sam Bradford with some talent drafting WR Tavon Austin and adding TE Jared Cook through free agency. The addition of OT Jake Long might have been the biggest move this offseason as LT has been an issue pretty much since Orlando Pace retired.
Not too many people know about this Rams defense, but they are going to be very good this season. They have a pair of good pass-rushing ends in Chris Long and Robert Quinn. I am also a big fan of LB Alec Ogletree, who they drafted at the end of Round 1 this year.
If injuries were to plague the 49ers or Seahawks, the Rams could be a dark horse for the playoffs this season.
4. Arizona Cardinals (schedule): 5-11
Arizona sort of solved their QB situation by adding Carson Palmer to the team. Palmer is five times better than what the Cardinals had to deal with last season. This should benefit their trio of WR's Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, and Michael Floyd. The loss of first-round draft pick OG Jonathan Cooper for the season will definitely hurt an already poor Cardinals offensive line. I'm not a big fan of any RB on this roster.
Outside of Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals defense is pretty mediocre. I have feeling this unit will be near the bottom of the league all season, which means they should be near the top of the draft next season where they really can address the dire need of a franchise QB.
All of our contributors will make their division and Super Bowl picks and we will track those on this centralized predictions page.