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NFL Pro Football 2013 NFC West Preview

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Fearless Rick's NFL Preview - NFC West

Rick Gagliano | August 2, 2013

NFC West

San Francisco 49ers

2012 Record: 11-4-1

2013 Expected Finish: 12-4

Coming off a tough loss in the Super Bowl, the 49ers return for another shot, this time with Colin Kaepernick as the starting QB and without Alex Smith peering over his shoulder. Smith was traded to KC and Colt McCoy becomes the backup.

Frank Gore will once again lead the pound-and-ground game in San Francisco's physical offense, but it will be up to the defense - ranked #1 in the NFC and #3 overall - that will be the real strength of this squad.

They are as physical as they come and loaded with veterans and Pro Bowlers.

The 49ers should encounter few problems repeating as NFC West champions and are the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Barring injuries, it's tough to see how they won't make a return visit to the ultimate game.

Seattle Seahawks

2012 Record: 11-5

2013 Expected Finish: 10-6

The Seahawks had a surprisingly great season from rookie QB, Russell Wilson, who returns for a second year with greater aspirations. Seattle knows they are a high-value, talented team and head coach, Pete Carroll has nurtured that talent with a combination of tough love and rah-rah enthusiasm, skills he developed coaching USC in the college ranks.

Those tactics worked well for Carroll last year; it's unknown if veterans will continue to buy into his hype, though many swear by it, so that's not an issue. Getting Percy Harvin into a mix with fellow receivers, Golden Tate and Sidney Rice will be, but Seattle seems ready to repeat as post-season players.

Seattle was right behind the 49ers in defensive ability, ranked 4th overall in yards allowed, and will challenge the 49ers until the final weeks of the season and could upend them if all works out properly.

Look for Seattle to fight doggedly for a return to the playoffs and a better seeding this time around.

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St. Louis Rams

2012 Record: 7-8-1

2013 Expected Finish: 8-8

Even without running back, Steven Jackson (to Atlanta), the Rams may be better than they were last year, when they were beset by injuries and inconsistent play from QB Sam Bradford. Tavon Austin should work out as Bradford's go-to guy in the passing game and Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead will split time at Running back, making up for the departure of Jackson.

Still, the Rams may be in the toughest division in the league, and may not be in contention for a playoff spot when the calendar turns over to December. There are plenty of quality teams in the NFC and only six go to the post-season, so it may be another year of waiting for the Rams.

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Arizona Cardinals

2012 Record: 5-11

2013 Expected Finish: 6-10

Larry Fitzgerald has to be happy to see Carson Palmer as the new starting QB for the Cardinals, because for the past two years he's been frustrated by not having a man who can deliver the ball.

If Palmer and Fitzgerald click, expect big things from the Arizona offense, especially if Michael Floyd - Fitzgerald's complement at wide receiver - starts getting some balls thrown his way. Running back is still a problem, though Rashard Mendenhall arrives from Pittsburgh to pick up the bulk of the ball-handling ground duties.

Arizona will have a solid defense. They were ranked 12th overall in yards allowed in 2012 and made some moves to upgrade via the draft and free agency.

Like St. Louis, however, there are just too many good teams they have to meet to expect much more than mediocrity.

Copyright 2013, 2014, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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