2011 Scouts Inc. predictions for NFC West

August, 31, 2011
8/31/11
11:10
AM ET
Well, this will stir up some dust.

Scouts Inc.'s 2011 season projections, available to Insider subscribers, call for the St. Louis Rams to win the NFC West with a 9-7 record.

I'll run through their projections, revisit mine and single out two aspects of the Scouts Inc. analysis, one I like ("Amen, Scouts Inc.") and one I think needs clarification (Picking nits).

St. Louis Rams

Scouts Inc. projection: 9-7

My post-camp win range: 8

Amen, Scouts Inc.: They recognize the Rams will try to be more aggressive with their downfield throws even though the team's wide receivers aren't burners overall.

Picking nits: The outside linebackers did give up too many plays last season, but the team will have two new starters in those positions for 2011.

Seattle Seahawks

Scouts Inc. projection: 7-9

My post-camp win range: 5-7

Amen, Scouts Inc.: I agree that we'll see Charlie Whitehurst at quarterback before long unless the Seahawks' new offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, sees something in Tarvaris Jackson that others do not see. There's also a good chance for a quarterback change by injury unless Seattle tightens up its pass protection considerably.

Picking nits: How the pass defense performed last season might not mean much for 2011. The team traded away Kelly Jennings, lost Jordan Babineaux and did not re-sign Lawyer Milloy. Walter Thurmond looks completely different athletically in his second season back from knee surgery. The secondary is younger and bigger overall.

Arizona Cardinals

Scouts Inc. projection: 7-9

My post-camp win range: 7-8

Amen, Scouts Inc.: I've focused more on questions regarding the Cardinals' pass-rush, but Scouts Inc. raises legitimate concerns about the run defense. The team's aging outside linebackers were "too slow to execute as playmakers" last season. Now, they're a year older. The team clearly needs some of its younger players to emerge.

Picking nits: While Patrick Peterson's skills should eventually help the Cardinals play more aggressively, the first-round draft choice has so far eased into the role. He has not yet been named a starter.

San Francisco 49ers

Scouts Inc. projection: 6-10

My post-camp win range: 6-7

Amen, Scouts Inc.: The run defense should indeed remain strong even though the 49ers changed some of their personnel up the middle. I went to 49ers camp questioning the defensive changes and came away with a better understanding of what the team was thinking.

Picking nits: There weren't any nits to be found here, at least from my perspective. I had not considered the Scouts Inc. observation regarding the 49ers' rush offense, which read, "We'll see a run-first power attack with a FB and a lot of two-TE sets. Although the new coach wants his backs to be one-cut guys to set up play-action, Gore tends to be more of a patient runner."

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