2011 Scouts Inc. predictions for NFC West


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."