Fooch's Note: The hour-long NFC West special will re-air this Saturday, June 2, at 8:30 AM ET/5:30am PT (thanks to @espn_nfcwest). Set your DVRs!
ESPN has been putting together hour-long NFL Live specials to break down the eight NFL divisions, and last night they covered the NFC West. The hour-long discussion was moderated by Trey Wingo, with former NFL players Tim Hasselbeck and Tedy Bruschi providing their insight into the division. Given some of their past comments, take a minute to finish snickering before reading further.
I missed most of the episode and am waiting to find out when it will re-air, if at all. For now, I've posted some video after the jump, courtesy of ESPN's NFC West blog. This video doesn't feature the specific predictions, but at some point, Hasselbeck picked the 49ers to win the division, while Bruschi went with the Seahawks.
I tweeted out the predictions last night and naturally Bruschi's prediction got some brush-back on Twitter. The 49ers are the heavy favorite to win the division. They have had what appears to be a very successful offseason in which they returned their entire starting defense (substituting Aldon Smith for Parys Haralson) and added in some significant offensive weapons. The general consensus will likely have the 49ers claiming the division.
And yet, it would not surprise me at all to see some more folks picking the Seahawks over the course of the next three months. The Seahawks have several question marks, but I can see the justification being something along the lines of "The 49ers are going to take a step back in terms of their turnover differential, Alex Smith will remain a question mark, while the Seahawks will take a step forward, most notably with improved QB play from Matt Flynn."
For the Seahawks, a significant step forward would likely be predicated on a strong performance from their new QB. I think the position will be improved from last year, but will it be enough? I'm not holding my breath on that one, but it's something to consider. The Seahawks and 49ers play each other fairly tough, but considering they only play twice a season, there is always the potential Seattle makes a move.
I don't actually think the Seahawks will win the division, but don't be surprised by predictions about the Seahawks winning it. Contrarian opinions have become the go-to move for media members, and I suspect this could develop into a prominent one for some of the mainstream media.
ESPN NFC West Special