We take a look at what the NFC West and AFC West has going on in Week 1 of the 2012 NFL Season. For more on the 49ers, be sure to head on over to Niners Nation. For more on the Raiders, check out Silver and Black Pride.
Well, we've got our streams for the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers up and going, with preview material and other such posts aplenty. One other thing we're going to track throughout the 2012 NFL Season is just how their respective divisions are doing around them.
For the 49ers, they're heavily favored to win the NFC West again, and they should be after a 13-3 season and an appearance in the NFC Championship game. The NFC West has long been one of the worst divisions in football, with the Seattle Seahawks winning it a couple years back with a losing record at 7-9.
Aside from the San Diego Chargers, the AFC West has been in something of a similar situation. The Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and the Raiders have all been pretty poor teams in general over the last few years. But now, the division is beginning to open up. Norv Turner's grip on the Chargers is slipping, while Peyton Manning is now in the division as the quarterback of the Broncos. It should be an interesting season, to say the least.
Let's talk a little bit about each matchup this week.
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals, Sun, Sept. 9, 1:25 p.m. PT
Both teams committed money to high-ish profile quarterbacks in Matt Flynn (Seattle) and Kevin Kolb (Arizona). Both quarterbacks turned out to be colossal disappointments and have been supplanted by Russell Wilson and John Skelton, respectively. It's an early matchup within the division and the winner will likely be the only team to actually give San Francisco any kind of challenge in the division. Look for Seattle's defense to step up big time and win this one.
Aside from the Houston vs. Miami matchup, this is the game that most people believe to be the squash match of Week 1. The Lions showed last season that they have one of the best offenses in the league, coming in just under Green Bay and New Orleans, and it's hard to imagine St. Louis' defense really being able to stop that passing attack - new faces in the secondary or not. St. Louis appears over-matched in this one.
For a look at the 49ers game, be sure to hit up our 49ers stream.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Atlanta Falcons, Sun. Sept. 9, 10:00 a.m. PT
The Chiefs have some of the top developmental talent in the league, but it's likely not going to contribute to many wins in 2012. They've got rising stars on both sides of the ball, but the Falcons keep adding ready-to-go playmaking talent every offseason. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones will be looking for the end zone early and often, and smart money is on them getting there.
Denver Broncos vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Sun. Sept. 9, 5:20 p.m. PT
Pittsburgh's window to win another title may be closing, but as long as they have the players they do on defense, and Ben Roethlisberger on offense, they're going to be a tough team to beat. Denver surprised a lot of people with strong defensive play a season ago, but they'll need to be perfect to stop the Pittsburgh attack. There's also the small matter of Peyton Manning and what he can say in the matter. Nobody knows what he's going to look like, so at this point, who knows what's going to happen with Denver this season?
For a look at the Raiders-Chargers matchup, check out our Raiders stream.