Catching Up With Our Craptacular Division

Three preseason games are now complete in the NFL and--what's this? Our division sucks? P'shaw. Anyway, that's a sparkling 4-8 record the NFC West is sporting and -55 point differential. The Hawks own the division's only winning record, 2-1, but are really in the thick of the suck w/ a -10 point differential. What does any of this mean, not much really, but a few individual details from those contests can help inform us where this motley bunch of losers stand heading into the season. Teams listed by projected finish.

Saint Louis Rams (9-7)

Have you heard about this guy Brian Leonard? He was, like, the teams third leading rusher behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and he totally ripped off a fifteen yard run in the first. Wait, Fitzpatrick is a lily Ivy-League QB and Leonard's other five runs combined for five yards? You'll be excused if you didn't notice with the crowd around the bandwagon, but they're selling snake oil in Saint Louis.

The Rams get a bit of mulligan here, Steven Jackson has been wisely protected and without his tremendous contributions to both the rushing and passing attack, the offense was noticeably defanged. Still, he didn't make Marc Bulger complete only 38% of his passes or allow Josh McCown to garner 138 yards on just 9 attempts.

The Rams are living on a slight edge that allows their premium offense to out-awesome their defense's suck. A single injury to Torry Holt, Marc Bulger or, *Gasp!, Steven Jackson could easily push them into a bad division's cellar. I don't think any of those players is likely to get hurt, but when you include Isaac Bruce and Orlando Pace to the short list of players that the Rams can't live without, you'll see that while the Rams could be a contender on paper, they are also paper thin.

San Francisco 49ers (7-9)

Losing 28-31 to the reigning NFC Champs doesn't sound too shabby at all, but to quote Fooch over at Niners Nation:

If you didn't watch this game and only check the final score, you would assume the 49ers were competitive and looked reasonably solid on offense against the vaunted Bears defense.  And that is why you never assume because you would be incorrect sir.  I think the final score of this game is a perfect example of how the preseason really works.  The Bears led this game 31-13 at halftime and thoroughly dominated that half.  The 49ers did have several opportunities to swing the momentum in their direction.  However, every time that happened, there was either a turnover or some stupid penalties, or just poor execution on offense.

Have you heard the one about the poorly constructed 3-4 that can't get pass rush and doesn't contain the rushing attack? On the very first play, Rex Grossman connected with Bernard Berrian (it was touching) for a 45 yard pass. Grossman recorded 4 passes of twenty or more yards in the half. Three of those four were listed as "deep", i.e. they were not the product of RAC, but the kind of plant and chuck Sexy Rexy lives on when he has all day in the pocket. The Niners were better at defending the rush, forcing 53% of the Bears rushes to be "unsuccessful".

Alex Smith converted zero first downs in the first half, and had he not connected (seriously, like Steel Magnolias shit) with Vernon Davis on a 26 yard reception in the Niners opening drive, would have averaged just three yards an attempt. He was also sacked once and fumbled once. When the regulars left in the mid third quarter, Chicago was up 31 to 13. Seven of the Niners points were through an interception return by Walt Harris. The Niners first string offense accomplished just one first down for the entire contest.

That, my friends, is a beat down.

Arizona Cardinals (5-11)

From this morass, the Cards come out looking like a Texas Rose. Sure the defense sucks, but their offensive line looked downright competent. The NFL's leading sack artist, San Diego, didn't record a blow until old man Kurt Warner took over in the third. That would be their only sack in the game. Of course the rushing attack is still garbage, but for a young team with a lot of developing talent, this game is a step forward.

Unless you want to hear details about the crappiness of Arizona's defense or my personal belief that Matt Leinart is a frickin' STEAL in fantasy because how often the Cards will be playing from behind, I'll leave it at that. The team sucks, but the offense is developing and quickly.

Ok folks, things are pretty good around here, yesterday, though draining, went about as well as could be expected and he's home and all. My girlfriend fiancee hates this blog like I hate Jerome Bettis' home town. So with little else to say, I'm heading out. Thursday promises a boring night of Hawks football, but a couple story lines persist--I'll catch up on those tomorrow. I'm excited about the FG's fantasy football league, where I'll have to balance my competitiveness with my streak of attending every fantasy draft fuc--eh, you know how that ends.  

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