Hello, NFC West Teams! Today we’re going to visit with you.
The Arizona Cardinals
History: The Cardinals are the oldest existing team in the NFL. They were founded all the way back in 1898 in Chicago. They’ve since moved to St. Louis (1960) and Arizona (1988). For reasons known only to the NFL, they remained in the NFC East Division until 2002. The Cardinals most recent success came with their Super Bowl season in 2008, which they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Current Players to Know: Kevin Kolb/John Skelton at QB. Skelton won the position in training camp but was injured in the first game and Kolb has taken over to great success – a 3-0 start. Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best wide receivers in the history of the game; he can literally catch anything. Vonnie Holliday is a veteran defensive end.
Head Coach: Ken Whisenhunt
2011 Regular Season Record: 8-8
What to Watch For in 2012: The Arizona Cardinals are undefeated. And not by the grace of an easy schedule – they’ve beaten legit teams, the Patriots among them. And they don’t look like they’re about to slow down anytime soon. It will be interesting to see what happens when John Skelton is able to return from injury (any week now) – whether the Cards stick with Kolb or switch back to Skelton.
The San Francisco 49ers
History: The 49ers were founded in 1946. The name “49ers” came from those who flocked to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. They own the distinct privilege of winning every Super Bowl they’ve ever played in (five total). In the 80’s and 90’s they were a super power, home to iconic football figures Bill Walsh, Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Jerry Rice.
Current Players to Know: QB Alex Smith was the first player taken in the 2004 NFL Draft, but had yet to live up those expectations until the past two seasons under the mentoring of head coach Jim Harbaugh. Vernon Davis has also flourished under coach Harbaugh at tight end. Patrick Willis is a constant threat at Linebacker.
Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh
2011 Regular Season Record: 13-3
What to Watch For in 2012: The 49ers are good…a fact which, as a Packers fan, I know all too well. The 49ers beat the Packers decisively in the first week of the season. They trampled all over the Lions in Week 2, but were dealt a surprising loss by the Vikings last Sunday. Make no mistake, though – the 49ers are as good as they come, especially on defense.
The Seattle Seahawks
History: The Seahawks were founded in 1974 and played their first season in 1976. They were originally an NFC team, then became an AFC team in 1977, then switched back to the NFC in 2002. The Seahawks played in their first Super Bowl in 2005.
Current Players to Know: Russell Wilson is a surprise. He’s the shortest quarterback in the league (5’10”) and beat out the highly-sought-after free agent Matt Flynn for the starting job. Marshawn Lynch is a beast of a running back. Brandon Browner is troublesome at cornerback.
Head Coach: Pete Carroll
2011 Regular Season Record: 7-9
What to Watch For in 2012: The Seahawks just won a controversial game…which is a nice way of saying they were awarded a win for a game they had lost. But, controversial or not, the Seahawks are playing well this year, and they’re especially hard to beat at home. The continued development of Russell Wilson should be an asset for the Seahawks.
The St. Louis Rams
History: The Rams started out in Cleveland and lived there for about 10 years before moving to Los Angeles. They moved to St. Louis in 1995. In 1999 the Rams won the Super Bowl with “the Greatest Show on Turf” – a lethal combination of Hall of Fame talent: Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and Tory Holt among them.
Current Players to Know: Quarterback Sam Bradford was the first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Steven Jackson could run through a brick wall…or ten. Danny Amendola is having a break-out year at wide receiver.
Head Coach: Jeff Fisher
2011 Regular Season Record: 2-14
What to Watch For in 2012: Coach Fisher had a long and successful tenure as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans. This is his first season with the Rams, and all signs point to him having a better season than last year’s 2-14 record. The Rams are definitely in a rebuilding phase, but with Coach Fisher at the helm, they’re likely to improve quickly.