Our St. Louis Rams had the second worst record in the NFL in 2008, just changed head coaches and have a team focused around one superstar, Steven Jackson. The Rams just came off a very disappointing showing by their first team offense and defense against the Atlanta Falcons in their second preseason game.
But, the Rams have a few things going for them. First is regression to the mean, their division and history.
First and foremost, the Rams play in the NFC West. Three out of five of the last years, the NFC West has been won with a 9-7 record. The NFC West is not the AFC East or South or the NFC East. It is a step above the AFC West as far as quality of teams goes. If someone is going to go from worst to first in a division, the NFC West is a great division to be in. So, let’s look at the opposition in the NFC West and why they won’t be the division champions.
So, come take a ride with me on the unbridled optimism bandwagon after the jump as we look at the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seattle Seahawks were 4-12 in 2008, getting 2 of their wins from our St. Louis Rams. Most of the projections for the NFC West have the Seahawks winning the division. In 2008 the Seahawks were hit hard by the injury bug and started Seneca Wallace for most of the season at QB.
But, can the Seahawks actually stay healthy this year? The early season projections think that they have to be more healthy than 2008, but they are an older team and the older a team, the more risk there is for injury. Take a look at the 2008 Rams, one of the oldest teams in the league. The Seahawks already had one of their starting tackles retire due to injury and Walter Jones, their future Hall of Famer will miss the first few weeks of the season due to injury. Perhaps you can see where I’m going? The Seahawks are supposed to be healthier in 2009, but they are still putting their hopes on the same players that were injured in 2008.
The Seahawks offense ranked 26th in DVOA last season and their problems were split between rushing and passing offense. The Seahawks just signed free agent running back Edgerrin James to help fill out their running back stable. The Seahawks also signed TJ Houshmandzadeh to help out their less than stellar wide receiver group. Matt Hasselback is still the QB for the Seahawks.
Seattle was good against the run in 2008, but struggled against the pass (ranked 30th in DVOA). Their first round draft pick was OLB Aaron Curry, who should be similarily good against the run and will struggle slowing the pass.
Seattle is banking on having a healthier 2009 to have an improved 2009, but have already suffered injuries to their starting center, left tackle and right tackle. As the Rams know, the offensive line is the key to a productive offense. The Seahawks are younger on defense, but still relying on older players on offense. The Seahawks could have a slightly stronger defense, but the offense could stagnate again. With so many issues, the Seahawks will not regain the NFC West crown.