24 August 2007

NFL previews: NCF West

Okay, NFC West. Been pretty barren the last couple years with the Seahawks winning esentially by default, but this year could be very competitive. By NFC standards, anyway.

Phoenix Cardinals

Total wins: 7
I think these guys could be decent this year. Last year they were a trendy pick and I laughed at them, and I was right, but this year I think I'm ready to buy into them, primarily because I think Leinart's gonna step up. Unfortunately, this division isn't as easy this year, so seven wins might still wind up being a tall order. Say they take three in the division; gotta be splits, as I can't see them sweeping anyone. Two from the NFCS? Why not? They don't have a chance @NO, but they get Atl at home playing out the string, and they could take one of the other two as well. It's hard to see them taking mroe than one from the AFCN as they're on the road for @Bal and @Cin; tough break. Take the over on that @Cin game, by the way. Anyway, I'll give 'em one of the home games. That leaves @was and Det, two teams I think will improve this year. Without those it's six. But they could take one, or one of the AFCN home games, for a push. Too close.

Division champ: 5–2
This seems strangely short. Do people really like this team that much? It's also worth noting that no team's odds are less than one for this bet, so I guess it's just close all around. Anyway, don't bet this one.

SB champ: 40–1
Whatever. Look, I'm not saying they can't make it; they could be this year's big story. But can you really see them beating Ind, NE, SD, Cin, Den, whoever? No way.

Week one: +31/2 @SF
Y'know, if I was starting a team, given the choice between Smith and Leinart I'd take Leinart. I'd probably take James over Gore given the same line. And I'd certainly take Boldin or Fitzgerald over any SF WR. But this isn't fantasy, and SF's at home. I don't have a pick here, I'm just rambling.

Full disclosure: I'm sure the Cards have fans, I just can't imagine them. Can you?

San Francisco Forty-Niners

Total wins: 71/2
These guys are a hot pick this year and Vegas has them under .500? Seriously? Note that they're also 15–1 to win the Super Bowl. That's the same as the Bears. And better than the Bengals and the Eagles. It's also intersting that they have longer odds than Sea to win the division, but shorter for the SB. I don't get it either.

Start with three division wins. Just so you know, I'm giving every team in this division three. They all look about the same to me, so whatever. If they really are so improved then I think they can take three from the NFCS: the two home games and one of @NO or @TB. Then let's say two from the AFCN, as they get Bal and Cin at home. That leaves @NYG and MN; they should take the latter, but the @NYG game is too early (i.e., pre-coughlin-fatigue-induced collapse). That makes nine. Can they really win nine? Maybe. I definitely think they look like a better than .500 team, so let's take the over.

Division champ: 2–1
Possible, but not likely enough to take those odds.

SB champ: 15–1
Not this year.

Week one: –31/2 AZ
I covered this one above, not worth it.

Full disclosure: Pretty sure I don't know any Niners fans, which is weird considering all the success they've had in the past. I'm suer there are plenty of bandwagon fans my age on the west coast, but not so much around these parts.

Seattle Seahawks

Total wins: 9
They appear to be the prohibitive NFCW favourite by default, which has become the norm in this division in the past few years. I can see why: they look solid though unspectacular in an overall uninspiring division. We'll start 'em off with three in the division, I don't care how that breaks down. No reason they can't take three from the NFCS as well; NO is the only wild card here; @Car and @Atl are late enough that those two might be playing out the string. They could take three from the AFCN as well, as they get Bal and Cin at home. That leaves Chi and @Phi. The latter is late enough that McNabb could be out by then, but these are still tough outs. I'll say one. That's ten, but not a very confident ten. I'm not betting this.

Division champ: 8–5
Shortest odds in the division, and it's hardly a cakewalk. No thanks.

SB champ: 25–1
Eh. Probably not. I think that one against Pit was the closest this group's gonna get.

Week one: –6 TB
The Bucs look to be dealing with a spot of turmoil early on this year, and the 'Hawks should be primed to capitalise on that. Throw in the jetlag factor and this one's an easy pick: Bucs.

Full disclosure: I know one guy wholives in Seattle and he's a Sonics die-hard, but I don't think he really cares abotu the 'Hawks. Come to think of it, I heard the other day he'd moved to Portland.

St. Louis Rams

Total wins: 71/2
I like the Rams. I always overrate them because I still think of them as the Warner/Faulk Rams, and because they still put up gaudy offensive numbers now and then. And I'm probably overrating them this year, but so be it. Three in the division, we already agreed on that. I think they'll take three from the NFCS; they get two of them in the first three weeks, and the Rams always come out of the gate strong. Even @NO is a good match since they're a dome team as well. I think they'll win their home games with the AFCN, but @Bal and @Cin's a killer (take the over on the latter, by the way). As for @Dal and GB, that looks like a split to me. So that's nine right there, and they could win ten. Take the over.

Division champ: 4–1
This is the longest of the four, and I think I'd pick these guys first. Take it.

SB champ: 30–1
But let's not go overboard.

Week one: 0 Car
Tough to bet against the Rams at home, especially early in the season. Plus there's no spread. Rams.

Full disclosure: J— grew up a Rams fan in the O.C., but stopped watching them when they went to Saint Loo. He didn't even jumped back on the wagon when they won a title with Vermeil. So I don't know any Rams fans.

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