NFC West preview: Bold 2013 predictions


San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is going to l-l-love the NFC West video preview featuring ESPN's Merril Hoge and Herm Edwards. Both picked a team other than the 49ers to win the division in 2013, giving Harbaugh the type of we-get-no-respect ammunition a coach covets (particularly coming off back-to-back division titles and a Super Bowl appearance).

Hoge also pointed to the Arizona Cardinals as a sleeper team in the NFC, contending that coach Bruce Arians and top offensive assistant Tom Moore will marry their disparate views regarding offense to produce an "explosive balance" to complement their defense. That is an interesting pick. The St. Louis Rams would seem to qualify as well, although they might not be a true sleeper after producing a respectable 7-8-1 record last season, including 4-1-1 within the division.

While down in Arizona, I didn't hear much about plans for blending what Hoge described as Arians' aggressive downfield approach with Moore's preference for focusing more on protecting the quarterback. To my knowledge, this is going to be Arians' offense and it's going to be aggressive in taking deep strikes in the passing game.