With good reason, the San Francisco 49ers enter the 2012 season as not only the favorites to win the NFC West but also as a contender for the Super Bowl. They've got a top-five (top-three, probably) defense and have added some playmakers on offense like receivers Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins and running LaMichael James. They can hope that a full offseason together as a team with the same offensive coordinator will mean improvement from Alex Smith. Many variables point to the Niners as the favorites, but don't count the Seahawks out, say Pro Football Weekly.
Says Erik Edholm, "The Seahawks are fascinating. They have a young, ballhawking defense, some real talent at receiver and a confident head coach in Pete Carroll with a chip on his shoulder. All they need now is to settle on a quarterback."
Edholm goes on to talk about the Seahawks bourgening defense and rising star coordinator Gus Bradley, and ends by noting that "The offensive line fell apart down the stretch, but there is a lot of ability up front, assuming injuries don't decimate the group again. The run game appears self-sustaining if a backup to Marshawn Lynch arises. They have a lot of big, talented pass catchers at receiver and tight end. The Seahawks should be much better on third downs than they were a year ago, both on offense (ranked 24th) and defense (23rd in sacks). They'd do themselves big favors by cutting back on penalties; accomplish that, and we are talking about a double-digit win team."
If the Seahawks' stars can align - injuries, turnovers and the like go their way - I'd agree that they have a good chance contend for the division in 2012. They'll need a little bit of luck though, and they'll hope to see the Niners regress badly, which is definitely not a given. Seattle will have to do well in their divisional matchups as well, and take care of business against St. Louis and Arizona, at the very least.
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