Welcome back to our 2014 season preview of NFL teams that you love, hate to love, and love to hate. Asinine Analysis is here to give some fans hope and other fans a face mask penalty back into reality.
Once again, one division seemed to run the table in a conference, giving the NFL the best record and both wild card entries into the playoffs.
Our next targets make up that division: the teams of the NFC West, now considered the division to beat after being the conference whipping boys for a decade.
Record: 10-6. Usually a record like this would give a team the division, but these are the Arizona Cardinals we’re talking about. Bad luck just seems to follow whenever something good happens to them. Or, like in the case of Anquan Boldin, they just give their good luck away because they can’t handle the idea of success.
So of course the year the Cardinals have a winning season is the year that almost every other team in the NFC West has a winning record that’s just a little bit better.
The Good: Bruce Arians still has an awesome pair of hipster glasses. It’s like Revenge of the Nerds 5: Fear of a Nerd Planet where the nerds have even taken over activities that jocks love, like football and sports in general.
I’m trying to say this with a straight face as a sports commentator who has the reflexes of a brick and plays fantasy football. The takeover is real.
In real football news, the Cardinals defense is solid. Just like the rest of the division, which means that one Denver Broncos games is going to rack up the same point total that NFC West teams will score off each other.
The Bad: The offense isn’t horrible, but again, the NFC West is a gauntlet of defenses. That means that your offense is going to get its head bashed in for six out of 16 games per year. Running back Rashard Mendenhall dealt with this for one season before saying, “Screw this. I’m out,” and retiring at the age of 27.
The Ugly: Carson Palmer is still here. I guess it’s good that the Arizona Cardinals have settled for the same quarterback two seasons in a row, but still, it’s Carson Palmer. He’s been cast away by the Bengals and the Raiders, he’s been wearing a leg brace for 20 years, and he throws almost as many interceptions as he does touchdowns.
Oh, my bad. If you add in his fumbles last year, he turns the ball over more than he scores, 28 to 24.
San Francisco 49ers
Record: 12-4. The good news is that the San Francisco 49ers won more regular season games last year than the previous. The bad news is that they got to the Super Bowl the previous year, but lost in the NFC Championship last year. If this trend continues, the 49ers will go 13-3 this year and lose in the divisional round.
The Good: Michael Crabtree is primed to be healthy for a whole season, which means that Colin Kaepernick may have someone to throw the ball to. That may not sound all that great considering the end of last year’s NFC championship, but not every defense is the Seattle Seahawks.
The Bad: Jim Harbaugh is still losing his mind on the sidelines, making him the angriest person to ever wear khakis.
The odd thing is, as dramatic as he is during a game, Harbaugh is unflinching when it comes to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
ó San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) August 16, 2014
He’s probably been practicing constantly for the time that he can do the Ice Bucket Challenge at the end of a Super Bowl.
The Ugly: The new Levi’s Stadium is already killing fans. We’re not talking about people in Santa Clara complaining about the heat. A fan literally died during a preseason game due to heart complications, but it’s better to just blame the heat rather than how slow and useless the 49ers look right now.
Record: 13-3. Super Bowl champions. Unfortunately, the Seattle Seahawks seem to be 1-3 in Twitter trash-talk wars, due to Richard Sherman posting a picture of his ring after trying to troll Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals when he posted his new contract. U MAD BRO?
The Good: No one wants to face the Seattle Seahawks defense, even after losing a quarter of it due to Super Bowl cash-ins. And Percy Harvin is officially healthy for five minutes, which means that Russell Wilson will have someone to throw the ball to for a few games.
The Bad: Pete Carroll and the team were fined for violating collective bargaining agreement terms when he had his players practice in pads during mini-camps. If anyone still thought that football wasn’t getting a little soft, this should push them over.
This isn’t Bill Belichick violations, but I’m sure it will be hyped up to be with other coaches and 49ers fans complaining, “Aw, Carroll’s cheating! He’s making his players practice!”
The Ugly: Russell Wilson hasn’t hit a big pay-day yet, but I’m sure it’s coming. And when it does, watch out. Those divorce proceedings of his and how much of a bite they’ll take out of his contract are going to be the only things the media wants to talk about.
St. Louis Rams
Record: 7-9. There was a time when a record like this would win the division, like the Seattle Seahawks in 2010. Unfortunately for the Rams, the rest of NFC West have gotten better while they find themselves stuck in mediocrity.
The Good: Jeff Fisher’s mustache is still phenomenal. I would say that it is beginning to rival the facial badge of Mike Ditka, if only because Fisher has been around more recently.
Then there is Zac Stacy, who somehow blew up in yardage on a team that couldn’t throw the ball, and defenses knew it. Could he be a new-age Maurice Jones-Drew? It looks like he’ll get another season to prove himself, because…
The Bad: Sam Bradford didn’t waste any time reverting to his seasonal form. He didn’t even make it out of the preseason before tearing his ACL, causing my fantasy league to wonder where I was since I reached for Zac Stacy in the 2nd round. Guys, I swear I didn’t go all Tonya Harding on Bradford.
The Ugly: With the Michael Brown shooting and aftermath and Michael Sam shower story, St. Louis really needs some good news. They’re not going to get it this season. But just think of all the different injury-prone quarterbacks they might draft with next year’s draft pick.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.