Asinine Football Analysis: NFC West Preview 2015

By Patrick Emmel

AFC: East | North | South | West

NFC: East | North | South | West

One more week. That’s all we have to wait. One more week until we can finally watch meaningful football for the first time since February. Like most other fans, I got by with watching a few minutes of arena football one time during the summer when I was really fiending for a fix. I almost went as far as to play a whole season of Madden 15 in viewer mode. Yeah, I was in a bad way. Baseball can only do so much.

Some NFL divisions are probably even more anxious to get things rolling. Maybe it has to do with leaving too many Skittles on the table in their last game. Maybe it’s about another chance to reach their potential. Maybe it’s about turning the page on the entire franchise. Maybe it’s about all of those glorious mustaches.

We continue our asinine analysis of NFL teams that you hate to love and love to hate to prepare you for the 2015 season. Our next targets: the teams of the AFC West.

Arizona Cardinals

Record: 11-5. Through sheer will and defense, the Arizona Cardinals limped into the playoffs on the arm of Ryan Lindley only to be defeated by the Carolina Panthers, who didn’t even have a winning record. It’s the sort of season that screams, “Draft an offensive lineman! For the health of Carson Palmer, or even Drew Stanton, please, draft an offensive lineman!”

The Good: The Cardinals drafted an offensive lineman in the first round of the 2015 draft. A ginormous 6’5″, 305 pound tackle in D.J. Humphries, who should be able to protect two quarterbacks at the same time if he needed to. For good measure, the Cardinals also stole Mike Iupati from the 49ers.

The Bad: As much as they bolstered their offense, the Arizona Cardinals backtracked on defense. Coordinator Todd Bowles went to the Jets and took Antonio Cromartie with him. Sam Acho went to the Bears. Patrick Peterson played like he was retiring after signing a big contract. It’s not a barren defense, but it’s enough to make us think that the Cardinals didn’t win the “Offseason Moves” trophy.

The Ugly: The world was buzzing when the Cardinals hired a woman, Jen Welter, as an linebackers coach intern, which is great. But the buzzing may not be all that great if the Cardinals don’t keep her on through the regular season. Her internship ends when training camp ends. Then the Cardinals may get that negative media attention that they’ve been able to stay away from for all these years.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up prior to facing the Denver Broncos during preseason. Colin Kaepernick (Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

San Francisco 49ers

Record: 8-8. The worst part is that it’s probably not going to be this good for the San Francisco 49ers for a long time. What a way to open Levi’s Stadium.

The Good: Colin Kaepernick can still run. Now he is joined by Carlos Hyde, who has a year under his belt and looks like he can fill in the Frank Gore role in the running game rather well. Kendall Hunter is ready to play! He can run, too! And let’s not forget Reggie Bush. More running!

But let’s not forget Torrey Smith! More running, with the possibility to catch while running! What’s not to love about this team.

The Bad: Levi’s Stadium is going to host Super Bowl 50. It would probably be better if the 49ers had a chance to play in that Super Bowl. The bad news is that the Super Bowl will probably include the Seahawks. It’s kind of like having to throw an engagement party for your ex-fiancee and the guy she was with when she left you at the alter. They’re paying you, but it’s just not right.

The Ugly: The entire defense looks like they were the reason for Chris Carter’s speech. Ray McDonald got into trouble and was sent away. Now Ahmad Brooks is under investigation for similar activity, on the same night, with the same people involved. Jerome Simpson is in trouble as well, but for different reasons.

It’s as if Jim Harbaugh’s khakis were holding back the floodgates

Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots intercepts a pass by Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks. Ricardo Lockette (Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks

Record: 12-4. NFC Champions. One yard away from a second Super Bowl win in a row. ONE YARD! It’s the sort of play that would make rival fans print out t-shirts for when the Seahawks come to visit.

The Good: In order to make a goal line pass sound plausible with Marshawn Lynch under center, the Seattle Seahawks traded with the New Orleans Saints for tight receiver Jimmy Graham. Or is it wide end? Whatever. It’s a pass-catching player that Russell Wilson can float a ball to like Drew Brees did for years.

And when Wilson first connects with Graham for a touchdown, we’ll see just how high a Pete Carroll hug can get. He may need a step-stool. Or he can just stand on Luke Willson’s back. It’s not like he’s got anything better to do.

The Bad: Kam Chancellor’s recent holdout seems like the death knell of this defense. Eventually, everyone on that defense is going to be asking for more money, money that the team won’t be able to pony up because of the salary cap. Eventually the only players left will be Richard Sherman and the 12th man.

The Ugly: ONE YARD.

When Emmitt Smith’s Twitter handle makes its way into sports analysis, you know that there is an issue.

Justin Ellis #78, Malcolm Smith #53, and Khalil Mack #52 of the Oakland Raiders sack Nick Foles #5 of the St. Louis Rams. Nick Foles (Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

St. Louis Rams

Record: 6-10. It’s the sort of record that makes a team look good enough for a city to think about building a new stadium, but bad enough to keep fans from showing up.

The Good: If there’s one thing that the St. Louis Rams do well, it’s play spoiler for another team. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a 2-5 Rams go up against an undefeated team, with a top-tier quarterback and a shutdown defense, and win the game. It’s usually not pretty, but the Rams aren’t about being pretty. Even Jeff Fisher’s mustache lost its beauty after growing a goatee to go with it. It was messy, but you couldn’t look away. Like the Rams.

The Bad: The running back carousel continues as the Rams search for the reincarnated legs of Marshall Faulk. Tre Mason was out before he was really out with a hamstring injury. Todd Gurley is in once he is healthy, which won’t be for a few weeks. This means that the Rams will probably run out Benny Cunningham, who will become the starter for the entire season. Why? Because “Jeff Fisher,” that’s why.

Oh, and the Rams traded away Sam Bradford for Nick Foles. As if you had any doubt that the Rams will only run the ball.

The Ugly: The Rams are in the same boat as the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. They have serious interest in moving to Los Angeles, and aren’t afraid of alienating their fans to accomplish this goal. Whatever fans are left, anyway.

This means that whichever team is the odd man out will probably be shipped out to London. How could they stay? Do I need to bring out the wedding allusion again?

Patrick Emmel is better at talking about sports than actually playing them. You can tell him he’s wrong on Twitter @Patrick_AE or see more of his work at Fanosis.


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