National Football Conference – West

San Francisco 49ers: One of the following four teams will indeed “win” this division, but only in the loosest sense of the term. Expect the 49ers to limp to a division victory in spite of noodle-armed QB Alex Smith. Their running game and the win-or-be-mooned attitude of nutbar coach Mike Singletary is sufficient to win nine games. Eight might be enough, though.

Arizona Cardinals: Recently jettisoned QB-of-the-future Matt Leinart must have been really, really terrible this pre-season. Their entire offence is one of the best in the game, and the Cards have decided to hand the reins over to Derek Anderson, who held a putrid QB rating of 49.1 last year, and lost his job to the equally terrible Brady Quinn. Somehow, the sublime WR Larry Fitzgerald will be wasted.

Seattle Seahawks: Saturday’s cut of T.J. Houshmandzadeh probably won’t directly hurt the Seahawks, since their playoff hopes are slim-to-none. However, he will help another team make the playoffs. The ‘Hawks have a couple of promising rookies (Russell Okung, Golden Tate) who will be impact players down the road, and a talented coach who has something to prove. This is a team built for the distant future.

St. Louis Rams: They’ve invested their franchise, and opening day, in rookie QB Sam Bradford, who hasn’t thrown a pass in over a year because he blew out his shoulder. This team is a long way from contending, and starting this fragile rookie with all-pro potential in his first season isn’t just flirting with the devil, it’s buying him a drink at last call.

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