After a short hiatus, I've decided to continue this series of predictions and move on to the conference that we all care about, the NFC. We start this half of the series in the West, where the 49ers and Seahawks seem to be early favorites to make deep runs into the playoffs, the Rams are a young and talented group, and nobody's really sure what to make of the Cardinals. So, without further ado, here we go. Feel free to hit the comments with your..........um...........comments.
San Francisco 49ers: Michael Crabtree's production is going to be hard to replace. Crabtree cemented himself as Kaepernick's favorite target in his 7 games as starting QB last season. He caught 85 balls (double the next highest total), 1,100 yards and 9 TDs. With his season-ending injury in the offseason, Kaep will have to find a new BFF. The team has a few offensive playmakers in Davis, Gore, Manningham, and the newly acquired Anquan Boldin, but none of them have reached Crabtree's numbers in at least 3 years. I'm sure Harbaugh will have a plan, and they will probably still make the playoffs, but I see their offense struggling for a good part of the season.
Seattle Seahawks: The offense will be lights out, until Percy Harvin gets injured. There is no doubting that Percy Harvin is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league. The problem is, that he can't stay on the field. He has only played in a full 16 games once in his career. Last year in 9 games, he had over ten yards more per game than any other season. He could very well continue this improvement, and if he does, the Seahawks offense will be scary. Lynch, Harvin, Tate, Rice, and not to mention their QB who isn't too shabby himself. That's a pretty dangerous and versatile group. Their offense was pretty good without Harvin in the mix, ranking 9th in points per game, and they'll be that much better with him. The question is, just how long will they be able to use him for?
St. Louis Rams: The defense will finish in the top 5. The Rams defense is sneaky good, and they're only going to get better. Almost every key player on their defense is either in or entering the prime of their careers. James Laurinaitis is 26, Chris Long is 28, Cortland Finnegan is 29, Janoris Jenkins is 24. Add to this the fact that the new regime has put together some very nice drafts and they are shaping up to be serious contenders for quite a while. Their defense has gotten better every year the past few seasons, and I expect them to make a big leap into the conversation of the best defenses in the league.
Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer will be injured by week 4. Can anyone guess how many sacks the Cardinals gave up last year? Anyone??? OK I'll tell you. 58. FIFTY EIGHT! Yeah, I couldn't believe it either. It's almost as if they cloned Frank Omiyale and had him play all 5 offensive line positions. It does seem hard to believe that the team could give up any more than 58 sacks in a season, but they've traded Kevin Kolb for possibly the least mobile QB in the league. If he was literally a statue, his feet would move quicker than they do now. I see Jay Cutler, who is fairly agile for a QB, get injured from the constant beating he takes and I just can't imagine Palmer making it through more than a few games without being injured. Not that I hope it happens, but I don't see a way that it won't.