NFCW status report.

Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson

Hard not to like who’s driving the Seahawks’ bus.

I’m going to pick up the NFC West for Jeff Rich.1  It sucks when real life interferes with the important business of internet football blogging but we must be flexible.  Won’t lie, am disappointed because Jeff’s stuff is top-notch and being Phoenix-based he’s a lot more tuned in to the NFC West than I feel I am.  BUT THAT WON’T STOP ME FROM HAVING A HOT TAKE!  And I do.  I promise I’m not trolling, but I see the Niners unravelling this season.  Read on.


Seattle Seahawks

Re-signed: coach Pete Carroll, DE Michael Bennett, FS Earl Thomas, CB Richard Sherman.
Veteran additions: CB Phillip Adams, WR Taylor Price, G Greg Van Roten, OT Stephen Schilling, QB Terrelle Pryor, CB A.J. Jefferson.
Veteran subtractions: CB Brandon Browner, DE Red Bryant, DE Chris Clemons, TE Kellen Davis, OT Breno Giacomini, FS Chris Maragos, DT Clinton McDonald, G Paul McQuistan, FB Michael Robinson, WR Golden Tate, CB Walter Thurmond.
Draft picks: 2a-Paul Richardson (WR), 2b-Justin Britt (OT), 4a-Cassius Marsh (DE), 4b-Kevin Norwood (WR), 4c-Kevin Pierre-Louis (OLB), 5-Jimmy Staten (DT), 6a-Garrett Scott (OT), 6b-Eric Pinkins (S), 7-Kiero Small (FB).

Kanick’s offseason grade:  A-.

628x471

Byron Maxwell… no drop off from Browner.

There was only one player on Seattle’s defense last year graded out red in PFF’s reviews.  And he’s gone (Chris Clemons).  At first blush you might pick on Seattle for losing Red Bryant.  But when you look at the snap count distribution on the d-line it’s remarkably balanced and light.  McDaniel, Mebane, Bryant, McDonald, Avril, Clemons, Bennett — the lowest was Bryant with 488 snaps; highest Bennett at 617.  With distribution of play like that you can afford to let the 30+ players go (Bryant and Clemons) and start to work Greg Scruggs and Jordan Hill into your rotations.  There just aren’t any holes here.  Even losing 30-yr-old Brandon Browner isn’t a problem as 26-yr-old Byron Maxwell played as well if not better than Browner when given the chance last year.

On offense, their biggest hole was Paul McQuistan and we know where he is now.  You could say losing Golden Tate hurts,, except that you’re looking at a full season of Percy Harvin now.

The University of Colorado football team hosts its spring football game at Folsom Field.

CU fans don’t chirp often so when they do, as they did for Richardson, take heed.

When you’re this stacked that smartest thing you can do is lock-up your core players (and HC).  Look at the “Re-signed” category and the Seahawks are an “A” grade right there.  But I’m not sure I like trading out of pick #32 just for Minny’s 2nd and 4th this year.. and then trading back again with Detroit.  Seems to me an XSF or Bitonio could challenge Sweezy and guard.  For a team recently rated with the 30th worst o-line, passing over those players is suspect even with 2011 first rounder James Carpenter looking good in camp.2 Local boy Seferian-Jenkins would offer a decent alternate to Zach Miller.  If they like Paul Richardson that much, trade back up into the second to get him.  But I’m probably splitting hairs and net is they added athletes like raw athletes Norwood and Pierre-Louis and if they learn and develop the ceiling is very high.

One more point.  Richard Sherman.  Check this series of gifs breaking down how he plays corner.  Just damn.

I went into this assignment looking for someone to knock the Seahawks off the top slot.  Not finding it.  Has anyone closed the gap?  Well yes.  But..

*****

San Francisco 49ers

Re-signed: Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, WR Anquan Boldin, LB Michael Wilhoite, K Phil Dawson, CB Eric Wright, WR Kassim Osgood, CB Perrish Cox, FB Bruce Miller, TE Demarcus Dobbs, S Craig Dahl.
Veteran additions: FS Antoine Bethea, CB Chris Cook, QB Blaine Gabbert, OT Jonathan Martin, WR Brandon Lloyd, WR Steve Johnson.
Veteran subtractions: CB Tarell Brown, RB Anthony Dixon, C Jonathan Goodwin, WR Mario Manningham, QB Colt McCoy, CB Carlos Rogers, SS Donte Whitner.
Draft picks: 1-Jimmie Ward (S), 2-Carlos Hyde (RB), 3a-Marcus Martin (C), 3b-Chris Borland (ILB), 3c-Brandon Thomas (OT), 4a-Bruce Ellington (WR), 4b-Dontae Johnson (CB), 5a-Aaron Lynch (DE), 5b-Keith Reaser (CB), 6-Kenneth Acker (CB), 7a-Kaleb Ramsey (DT), 7b-Trey Millard (FB).

Kanick offseason grade:  B+.

With a departing center (Goodwin), strong safety (Whitner), and a 31-year-old feature back; ;; the Niners first three picks were a strong safety (Ward), a running back (Hyde), and a center (Martin).  So… yeah.  Take a note Banner-Lombardi.  With holes filled, the Niners were free to go bargain shopping for ballers who slid due to measurables.  Short-arms Borland might be great, he has the heart.  Brandon Thomas was a probable first/second round pick and blows ACL in workout.  That’s where you use your compensatory third round picks, son.  Even a guy on my do-not-want list –Bruce Ellington– well a lot of scouts love him, it’s just the height thing, fourth round sounds right.3 I wanted to dock the Niners a half grade here, but I now actually love this pick since this is the pick the Browns traded for Terrence West.

kapcap

Colin thinks Navarro Bowman and I are jerks for noticing his Phins gear.

There’s a strong consensus that the Niners and Seahawks are the two best teams in the NFL and I agree.  So, in addition to viewing the offseason in terms of hole-plugging (on an already strong roster) let’s look at the moves from a ‘how-to-beat-Seattle’ viewpoint.  In the two games lost to Seattle last year, Frank Gore was held under 20 yds.  Enter Carlos Hyde.  Anquan Boldin had only one catch in the first Seattle game (when Crabtree was out).  Enter Stevie Johnson.  Trent Baalke both plugged roster holes and added tools to match better against the Seahawks.

There’s nothing not to like about the Niners’ player moves this offseason.4 However the off-field dust-ups with Chris Culliver (hit/run, racial slur), Daniel Kilgore (public intoxication), Aldon Smith (bomb threat), Colin Kaepernick (sexual assault), and Harbaugh (almost traded to Browns) indicate a team breaking apart and trending the wrong way.

1515151-4_3

Ok, point made Colin:  I’m not the boss of you.

I’m going to try to take my ‘Can’t-Stand-Kaepernick’ hat off for this paragraph.  With a team that’s had to deal with disappointments the last two years (in spite of its success) and with the off field turmoil and with the loss of some core veterans (Goodwin, Rogers, Whitner; Justin Smith and Dashon Goldson from the Super Bowl team)… does Kaepernick provide leadership?  Does he want to?

When I look at him objectively I see a good QB.  Throw out passing yards and passing TD numbers; that’s not his game, not the Niners’ offense.  He’s a terrifically fast and big and durable.  A QB who threatens a defense in many ways.  When you go through his stats, he holds up well.  The exception is his accuracy numbers5 but hey, only eight picks so what’s the problem?  Moreover, he’s inaccurate with authority, if that makes sense.  He throws the ball hard — even if it’s sometimes off target — and I love that.

But I can’t get past a perception of me-first.  You may not think wearing other teams’ gear or bicep-kissing celebrations are big deals and they might not be.  But they don’t scream team-guy either.  Quite the opposite.  Let’s say he signs this summer and is paid as a top 10 QB.6 Do you think he’ll become more ‘the Niners QB’ or more ‘Kaep: The Brand’ icon?

May be nothing.  But I’m glad he’s not my team’s QB.  Particularly so given whatever is (or is not) going on between Harbaugh and Baalke.

imgres

We’re sure they’re getting along just fine.

Pete Carroll got an extension.  Brother John got an extension.  But nothing brewing for Jim Harbaugh?  36-11-1 plus one NFC Champs banner and two division wins all in three years and he hasn’t been signed past this year?  It’s more than odd to have this unresolved.  It’s dysfunctional.  And while there’s a lot to like about Jim Harbaugh, he act is wearing thin with me.  I root for Pete Carroll to kick his ass every time they meet now.  My god, such a whiner.  And in terms of lower-case C coaching, the example he sets for his players with his sideline antics isn’t great.  As with Kaep, may be nothing or it may be something.

And we haven’t even gotten to Aldon Smith.  In the last two years:  two DUIs, stabbed at his own house party, possession of weed, possession of assault weapons (felony x3), and arrest by LAX mall cops for a bomb threat.  Hard to see how he avoids some suspension time.

Niners have a top notch roster that’s for sure.  Will it hang together behind Harbaugh and Kaepernick and battle through the (probable) loss of Smith?  I suspect it will not.  Not well enough to catch the Seahawks.  But I think it unravels in a hurry for the Niners if they get off to a slow start.  Their schedule is a bear.

*****

Arizona Cardinals

Re-signed: DL Frostee Rucker, K Jay Feely, DL Matt Shaughnessy.
Veteran additions: TE John Carlson, CB Antonio Cromartie, RB Jonathan Dwyer, LB Larry Foote, WR Ted Ginn, G Ted Larsen, OT Jared Veldheer.
Veteran subtractions: CB Javier Arenas, SS Yeremiah Bell, LB Jasper Brinkley, CB Antoine Cason, G Daryn Colledge, LB Karlos Dansby, TE Jim Dray, OT Mike Gibson, RB Rashard Mendenhall, WR Andre Roberts, RB Alfonso Smith, TE Kory Sperry, DE Ronald Talley, OT Eric Winston, LB Dontay Moch, TE Jeff King, RB Ryan Williams.
Draft picks: 1-Deone Bucannon (S), 2-Troy Niklas (TE), 3a-Kareem Martin (DE), 3b-John Brown (WR), 4-Logan Thomas (QB), 5-Ed Stinson (DE), 6-Walt Powell (WR).

Kanick offseason grade:  B.

Cards0825

With Cooper back, it’s like bring two first rounders into a 10-6 team.

There was a pretty big hole in Arizona’s line last year so I loved the Veldheer signing and even though they didn’t draft an o-lineman they will get last year’s top 10 pick, Jonathan Cooper back.  If Bobbie Massie ‘gets it’ this year, the Cards could find themselves with a dramatically improved o-line.

That should help elderly statue Carson Palmer.  You might think that the Cardinals’ 10-6 record last year indicates that Palmer is playing like his best Bengals years.  No.  I just poured through Palmer’s stats for QBR (20th), Accuracy (18th), Deep Passing (19th), Under Pressure (14th).. it’s all pedestrian except one:  Palmer’s completion percentage improves by 10.4% when he runs play-action (Only Cam Newton’s is higher.)  This is a good debunking of the ‘you gotta find your elite QB to win’ myth.7 It also shows the importance of a run game and also supports Acto’s ‘take RBs late in the draft’ mantra since Andre Ellington is the story here and he was a sixth round pick.  Palmer is also helped his two tall8 and stellar WRs Fitzgerald and the emerging Michael Floyd.  Throw in the real coach of the year, Bruce Arians, and the Cardinals offense should only improve this year.

giphy

Daryl Washington and Josh Gordon: stay off I-71 when this is happening.

The problem is on defense at linebacker.  Arizona took a calculated risk not re-signing 32-yr-old Karlos Dansby leaving one hole at ILB.  John Abraham is 36.  But they had to be blindsided by Daryl Washington’s suspension for repeated weed violations.  He is the talent equivalent of Josh Gordon except on defense and, like Gordon, the warning signs were there.  I guess all a coaching staff and front office can do is hope a guy will ‘get it.’  No such luck with Washington.  Net net:  the Cards’ 3-4 went from Dansby/Washington last year to Minter(?)/Foote(?) this year.  A major drop off especially in linebacker pass cover.  As nice as that d-backfield looks now adding Bucannon to Petersen, Cromartie, and Mathieu, the underneath routes now look available.  Cards might first team to play nickel as their base defense.

Iffy linebacking corps aside, I like Arians to build on the momentum from last year.

*****

St. Louis Rams

Re-signed: LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, OL Rodger Saffold.
Veteran additions: WR Kenny Britt, DE Alex Carrington, QB Shaun Hill.
Veteran subtractions: QB Kellen Clemens, G Harvey Dahl, CB Cortland Finnegan, FS Matt Giordano, TE Mike McNeill, CB Quinton Pointer, QB Brady Quinn, G Shelley Smith, SS Darian Stewart, G Chris Williams, LB Will Witherspoon.
Draft picks: 1a-Greg Robinson (OT), 1b-Aaron Donald (DT), 2-Lamarcus Joyner (CB), 3-Tre Mason (RB), 4-Maurice Alexander (S), 6a-E.J. Gaines (CB), 6b-Garrett Gilbert (QB), 7a-Mitchell Van Dyk (OT), 7b-Christian Bryant (S), 7c-Michael Sam (DE), 7d-Demetrius Rhaney (C)

Kanick offseason grade:  C-.

08-18-10_TorryHolt

240+ WRs have gained over 700 yards/season since the last Ram to do it.

I kinda sliced up the Rams’ offseason here and I stand by it.  Love Greg Robinson.  Love Aaron Donald.  Did not address WR and they’re entering their sixth season without Torry Holt.9 No really, their leading WRs since 2008 have been Holt, Avery, Amedola, Lloyd, Givens, Cook.10  WTF?  Not getting a WR makes their offseason a fail.  They simply didn’t need Greg Robinson as much as they needed Mike Evans.  Just dumb.

So as good as their pass rush is going to be, as good as their o-line is going to be, the fact is they have a borderline mediocre QB throwing to sub-par wideouts.  They needed to give Janoris Jenkins some help now that Finnegan is gone and they gave him under-sized Lamarcus Joyner.

In free agency they did nothing really.  Kenny Britt?  Shaun Hill?  Alex Carrington?

nfl_a_sambradford_ch_600

The excuse well is dry.

And Sam Bradford has been getting the benefit of the doubt for four years now.  You can only use the “poor supporting cast” bit for so long.  He was the #1 pick in 2009.  If you look back over those four years, select QBs who have started 30+ games, and sort by QB rating — Bradford is 24th out of 29.  Just behind of Josh Freeman, ahead of Ryan Tannehill.

I’m also a bit sour on Jeff Fisher.

Much as I love having Long-Barksdale-Saffold-Robinson on an o-line; much as Long-Brockers-Donald-Quinn is a protoype old school 4-3 front and I love it; much as STL should own the LOS on both sides… I don’t have faith in this offense to score points.

This is the team that could break my three-studs law.

*****

GAME BY GAME RECORDS.

Seattle 11-5
Seahawks Cardinals Football

Game of the season is week 16 in Glendale.

vs Pack L (Seahawks slow starters.); at Chargers L; vs Broncos W; at Skins W; vs Cowboys W; at Rams W; at Panthers L; vs Raiders W; vs Giants W; at Chiefs W; vs Cards W; at Niners W; at Eagles L; vs Niners W; at Cards L; vs Rams W.

x-Cards 11-5 (wild card)

vs Chargers L; at Giants W; vs Niners W; at Broncos L; vs Skins W; at Raiders W; vs Eagles W; at Cowboys L; vs Rams W; vs Lions W; at Seahawks L; at Falcons W; vs Chiefs W; at Rams L; vs Seahawks W (Huge playoff clinching win at home.); at Niners W.

Niners 6-10
1982-49ers-cowboys-dwight-clark-001175816

Niners opener in Dallas: payback.

at Cowboys L; vs Bears W; at Cards L; vs Eagles W; vs Chiefs W; at Rams L; at Broncos L; vs Rams W; at Saints L; at Giants W; vs Skins W; vs Seahawks L; at Raiders L (Derek Carr shocks world.); at Seahawks L; vs Chargers L; vs Cards L.

Rams 6-10

vs Minny W; at Bucs L; vs Cowboys W; at Eagles L; vs Niners W; vs Seahawks L; at Chiefs L; at Niners L; at Cards L (Ending a foul three game road trip that sucks all life out of team.); vs Broncos L; at Chargers L; vs Raiders W; at Skins L; vs Cards W; vs Giants W; at Seahawks L.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  1. Fun note:  Jeff has the Niners taking the division.  Irony! [back]
  2. Worth noting the bad o-line review comes Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth… yet another pundit who dings the Browns draft for NO WIDE RECEIVERS and then loves up on the Rams’ draft which included… no WRs.  Mixed bag with this guy. [back]
  3. And specifically not in the first round to the Browns Kiper you jackass. [back]
  4. The only thing I’m docking them on is the Jonathan Martin signing.  I just don’t think he’s very good… but if anyone is equipped to know his potential and whether he has a chance to find it, it’d be his old college coach Harbaugh. [back]
  5. CK ranked 23rd in accuracy between Schaub and Manuel using the formula: (Completions + Drops) / (Attempts – Throw Aways – Spikes – Batted Passes – Hit As Thrown).  [back]
  6. He did.  Six years, $110M. [back]
  7. For that matter, Seattle/Wilson and Niners/Kaepernick also poke holes in the QB-is-all talking point. [back]
  8. Both Fitz and Floyd are 6-3. [back]
  9. In those six seasons no Rams receiver has gained over 700 yds. [back]
  10. Seriously, here’s all the WR seasons over 700 yards since 2008.  There’s TWO HUNDRED FIFTY-SIX NAMES HERE AND ONLY ONE RAM — TORRY HOLT, #200, IN 2008. [back]

You may also like...

  • nj0

    Zero chance the Niners locker room falls apart with this guy there

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIZBPwV6CtI

    • mgbode

      He may be angry that he lost his buddy though. We know from the TV series that Phil & Colt are close friends (Longhorns Forever!!!).

      • actovegin1armstrong

        Viva los Longhorns!
        However bode, Austin is currently getting a national “black-eye” because it has been invaded by people doing X and riding skateboards. I am afraid to leave my house.

        • mgbode

          You should be afraid. I know I am.

  • actovegin1armstrong

    “The only thing I’m docking them on is the Jonathan Martin signing.”
    I hope that we do not get back into our Incognito argument, but I think that Martin was a good pick up, He is a brilliant guy who was in a ridiculously bad environment. They also got him for a fraction of what he is worth, I would try to move him to center, or at least train him to play all 5 line positions, there is no substitute for intelligence.
    Now that we are back on this subject jk, I am certain that I remember you, you were the guy who used to take my books, make me do your homework, steal my lunch and beat me up after school.

  • mgbode

    The Chargers are not going 4-0 against the NFCW 😉

    • hm. says here chargers go 10-6. !

      • mgbode

        well, I cannot read it (no permissions). I’ll take your word for it, but going 4-0 v. the NFCW and 6-6 against the rest of the NFL does sound like a typical San Diego season, so I take it back 🙂

        • fixed, visible.

          chargers start out at arizone and vs seattle — brutal but mccoy’s a coach who will have his team ready and maybe can sneak up on teams early season.?

          • mgbode

            my goodness. you have it even more extreme. SD is 6-0 vs. the NFCW + Denver. 4-6 against everyone else. also, starting off 7-1 to fall back to 3-5 down the stretch.

            Really, SD has been too up & down on a whole for me to see that happening. They lost to Houston, Tenn, and Oakland early in the year last season. Up & down & up & down really is how Rivers whole career has gone. I believe they are a good team (and should grab 2nd in the AFCW) and don’t see 10-6 as crazy at all, but I wouldn’t have guessed them to get there by that route.

            but, it’s the NFL, so who knows.

          • there’s always that team. no one had the texans losing 14 straight last year either amirite? crazy shit is going to happen, it’s just a question of where. acto’s still got me rattled at the prospect of “jake locker, good qb” and titans winning their division.

            [the browns’ 11 wins, otoh, shouldnt come as a surprise to anyone paying attention to berea lately.]

          • mgbode

            yeah, especially on the downside there is always a team that comes out of nowhere to be terrible. Carolina is the “popular” downslide team, but Cincinnati (no Zimmer), Arizona, and Kansas City are all on my list of likely sliding teams too.

            the Chiefs didn’t surprise all that many people last year after all their probowl players, replacing Romeo with a real live HC and Brady Quinn with a mediocre QB.

            so, you would think the Browns with all their probowl player, and replacing 14 games of Weeden & Campbell with Hoyer & Manziel wouldn’t surprise anyone. but, it’s the Browns, so the general media will still be surprised.

            and, I don’t think Jake Locker is a good QB, but he can be a passable one (and is certainly a better QB than Bradford IMO). he also fits the mold of QB I like in general.

          • Petefranklin

            I think you are right about the Bengals and Cards. Sorry Jim you are wrong about the Cards. Palmer isn’t good but if he goes down do the Cards even win a game?
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7fjDS0jKiE

          • maybe. they have the best stocked ‘talent position’ starters in the division with fitz, floyd, ellington plus niklas. even logan thomas could win with that line and those targets.

          • Petefranklin

            So can we pencil you in on the Cards -3.5 vs SD week 1 in Cheddar action?

          • nope. i’ll take the chargers in that and in the next week too home vs seahawks.

            i actually futzed around with the whole damn schedule here.
            https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1pM8z7j62EZStIY2-4jkZJJT9sR8qL1b057BX4t8oXQg/edit#gid=0

          • Petefranklin

            No way that the Browns lose two to the Bengals. I doubt that they beat the Steelers twice as well. 3-0 would be nice and let the Johnny talk simmer down.
            That Chargers Cards game is weird. The sharps hit it just because they are getting that hook, yet the game still has the hook, 3.5. Seems Strange to me, you may be right about the Cards.

  • maxfnmloans

    I know 1999 was 15 years ago, and there’s a lot more passing in the NFL these days, but that was arguably Fisher’s best Titans team, and the leading receiver in terms of yards was Kevin Dyson with 658, and Frank Wychek led the team in receptions with 69. Over the course of Fisher’s time in Tenessee, his best receiver was probably….Derrick Mason? That’s just how Fisher rolls, and ultimately, i think that’s been his downfall. never has a dynamic enough offense to compliment what is (generally) a solid, if unspectacular defense. That ends up in a lot of hard fought seasons within 2 games of .500 either way. No real “valleys” but not many peaks either.

    I think what part of the problem is in SF is that Baalke started building that roster long before Harbaugh got to town, but Harbaugh gets lauded as a genius for making chicken salad out of Alex Smith and leading a remarkable turnaround. Remember, the 9ers were supposed to be the “up and comers” in Singletary’s last season and fell flat. Since media sheep overreact, lots of them thought the 9ers needed an overhaul, and when Harbaugh won the division his first year out, he got all of the credit. As we all know in Cleveland, you can’t take a roster that was as bad as the media believed to division winners in one year. Problem was, the roster wasn’t as bad as the media portrayed, and that’s because Baalke had done a fairly good job prior to Harbaugh’s arrival. Combine that with Harbaughs off putting tendencies, and basically I think it’s just a big sword fight. That being said, i don’t think there’s any way the Niners fall off this year.

    I thought Seattle was going to fall back to the pack last year though, and I’m not making that mistake again. Although, I don’t think anyone should consider a full season from Percy Harvin as an event that has more that a 10% likelihood of occurring. Good news for Seahawk fans, Marshawn Lynch is only 28, so he’s not about to fall off the RB cliff just yet.

    Sea 12-4
    SF 11-5
    AZ 9-7
    STL 6-10

    • that’s true about fisher but he had mcnair and young and kerry collins was his best qb probably. bradford is supposed to be in the stafford-ryan class of qb but the rams are giving him tavon austin instead of megatron or jujones. seems a waste and i’m guessing bradford is out to run out of goodwill in stl.

      100% agree the parts were in place for harbaugh especially the 2010 draft where they took davis and iupati in the first round. the o-line was built to last. but their defense –the SB team’s defense– i thought was defined by goldson and whitner and willis and smith and bowman. theyre down to willis and bowman,, that’s gonna catch up to them at some point.

      the team i cant figure out is the cards but i couldnt figure them out last year either so im assuming bruce arians is a wizard and will continue to be.

      • mgbode

        It is a tough division to figure out and tougher since they play the difficult AFCW (great for TV though). Reverse order of finish for me here:

        Cardinals – Arians is a good coach, but the defense keeps losing pieces and I don’t see how they can physically matchup up with the rest of the division as a pass-stopping defense (other than LB coverage) against 3 good run defenses. I think they become a less extreme version of the Lions. 6-10.

        Rams – We all know by now that Bradford is not in the Stafford-Ryan class of QB. And, Fisher-act gets old on me too, but he always gets his players to play, so it’s hard for me to knock him too much. I love their OL, running game, and defense. If Bradford can be barely below average, then they should hover around .500. I’d guess 8-8.

        49ers – I agree with you and Max on the friction. But, man, the football decisions are on the money (Hyde a bit early, but they have the luxury of being able to pay premiums for guys they like due to talent base). Aldon Smith is an idiot, but I don’t think they were relying on him. I will admit that I am a sucker for the Cam/Kaep style of QB. It is my favorite type of QB (big, strong capable runner who can throw the ball anywhere on the field — but, smart enough to be in a run-based system and making smart decisions with the ball). As for his “attitude,” sadly that is just modern-QBs. 10-6.

        Seahawks – I think they are going to have issues moving forward as their style of play is going to have teams over-paying for their talent and Carroll is reliant on having a heavy rotation for his aggressive defense. It will chip away and eat at the team over time (even though it won’t necessarily help the teams grabbing those guys all that much). For now, I believe they have enough depth to get by with the style another year. And, on offense, Wilson should continue to get better. I usually predict a step-back year for SB champions, but I think this is going to be an exclamation point year for them. 13-3.

        • Petefranklin

          The Niners may not be relying on Smith but he is the difference maker for them. If he didn’t melt down like he did last year, the Niners get home field and win the Superbowl. Last year in Cheddar I made some ground up after he came back by taking the Niners. That Smith brothers combo is just beastly.

          • mgbode

            I agree he can be a difference maker (not so sure they’d have won the SB, but still). Just don’t see SF falling off that much record-wise w/o him as you also indicate.

          • Petefranklin

            I went back and looked at their season and they did win w/o him, you are correct. The game that really cost them was the Colts blowout loss at home(with Aldon).

          • actovegin1armstrong

            You are completely correct about the beastly Smith brothers Petefranklin, the beards and slicked down hair always scared me.

            http://www.thesmithbrothers.com/cough-drops-products-1.php?page_id=3

          • Petefranklin

            Black licorice was the bomb for growing up in NE ohio during the winters of 77 and 78!