The San Francisco 49ers may have run away with the NFC West crown in 2011, but many figure the division will be much improved in the coming year. Each team made some key additions to their teams and with more offseason workouts under their belts, the individual players should improve as well.
Pete Prisco, a columnist from CBS Sports and a former Arizona State Sun Devil, thinks that the Arizona Cardinals will improve drastically going into next season. His partners in crime, Rob Rang and Pat Kirwan, seem to agree with his logic. In fact, the belief is that they will win the division by going 10-6 in the coming year.
While all of them state their uncertainty with the quarterback performance, they see the defense much like we do here in Arizona. If all goes according to plan, they should be in the top 10 on the defensive side. But again, everything hinges on how Kevin Kolb and John Skelton are able to perform.
Another big factor in how the Cardinals are able to perform will be the play of second year linebacker, Sam Acho. The pass rushing from the outside linebacker position last year was a bit lacking with veterans Clark Haggans and Joey Porter at the helm. An infusion of youth should do that position a lot of good.
The one thing that I am worried about --and the CBS guys seem to be concerned with as well-- is the offensive line. Can they keep the quarterback on his feet or will he be watching most plays from his back? Can they create enough push to get Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells up the field? If the Cardinals' front five can do that, they should be good to go.
While I think the Cardinals do have a chance to win the division, I think there are too many question marks as of now. The QB play really worries me, along with the offensive line. If those two units can play up to expectations, I can see them making a possible playoff run. Otherwise, I see the Cardinals falling somewhere around 8-8 or 7-9.
Will they be able to live up to these lofty expectations? We will soon find out.