NFL Preview: AFC/NFC West
Christopher Frangolini is off this week due to travels in some exotic land, so I’m filling in in this edition of the NFL season preview.
In this edition, I’ll do my best as an inexperienced NFL writer to break down the AFC and NFC West Divisions.
Will this be the year for the Seahawks? Or will Peyton Manning break a hip for the Broncos? Big questions and (some) answers below:
Kansas City: The Chiefs have always been a tough team to play against. Coach Andy Reid (150-105) can be a tactical mastermind at times. Their solid defense can help set up a well-rounded offensive attack. Injuries hampered this team last year, so it will be interesting to see how they bounce back.
Denver: The Broncos noted in a press release on their website that their preseason first team O-Line has
three rookies on it. Left Tackle Ty Sambrailo (Colorado St.), Left Guard Max Garcia (Florida), and center Matt Paradis (Boise St.). Maybe this stands in the regular season, maybe not. With two rookies on the left side, that’s Peyton Manning’s blind side – ouch. Until the line gets adjusted to regular NFL action, the Broncos will be in the hole. There’s no guarantee they’ll make the playoffs.
San Diego: The Chargers open up against the Cowboys at home, then play on the road at Cincinnati and Minnesota. Phillip Rivers is decent, new RB Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin) is not LaDainian Tomlinson, but he’ll do. Star tight end Antonio Gates will be suspended for the first four games of the season. The line on both sides will be the determining factor if the Chargers can squeeze into the playoffs. Their defense got torched for 1,986 rushing yards, while the O-Line gave up 37 sacks. I think Charger fans are being catfished.
Oakland: QB Derek Carr can play. However, their backfield and defense won’t pull in points. Last season, Oakland gave up 1,981 rushing yards and 3,810 passing yards… that’s 2.16 miles of air mail. For those at home, that’s like being pushed back from Sawyer to Fenway Park. (Same goes for the Patriots (3,837 yds.).
Seattle: If Malcolm Butler didn’t jump the route, Pete Carroll would have made the greatest call in NFL history. There’s a reason why the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2013 and made it back in 2014. They are just that good. The core of the team returns to action this season, so they’ll be looking for redemption. It’s like trading all the best players in Madden to your GM team – including Jimmy Graham from the Saints. All Russell Wilson has to do is roll out and hit him up, and give it to Marshawn Lynch when teams drop back. Easy points.
Arizona: The Cardinals look to be well-rounded this season. Larry Fitzgerald still has hands at 31, a solid O-Line has Carson Palmer’s back. If Palmer can stay healthy, the Cards won’t have to rely on an average run game. Though they gave up 4,152 passing yards, they also had 18 interceptions (7th in the league). A solid run defense also returns. The Cardinals will make the playoffs.
San Francisco: The spotlight’s on the 49ers, and the regular season isn’t even underway. After the release of LB Aldon Smith, the firing of head coach Jim Harbaugh, and Colin Kaepernick not living up to expectations, every single thing they do is under a microscope. That’s not good for any locker room. Veteran running back Frank Gore is gone, but newly acquired Reggie Bush will take most of the snaps from Kaepernick and take the pressure off second-year back Carlos Hyde, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough.
St. Louis: Despite having the best mascot in the league, I’m not sure about the Rams. At QB, Nick Foles is a great pickup for Sam Bradford, who needed a fresh start. But with five rookies looking to take to the O-Line… that’s probably not good. Check back next year.
Stay tuned for the next edition of the NFL preview from The Suffolk Voice.