Today's question: All of you cover teams going through changes on the offensive line. How does the rest of the NFC West match up against a St. Louis Rams' defensive line that features five first-round picks?
Josh Weinfuss, Arizona Cardinals: Here's the thing about the Rams' defensive line: I love it. I think it's locked and loaded, which is why I have the Rams beating the Cardinals twice at this point. The left side of the Cardinals' offensive line will be impenetrable. The other three-fifths, however, could be the difference between winning and losing. Right tackle Bobby Massie struggled with the speed rush last season, getting off his position if he was pushed back too far. And with Jonathan Cooper transitioning to right guard, a good lineman may take advantage of his inexperience. And size could be an issue for Arizona at center. The Cardinals will have to rely on chipping from their tight ends and stout pass protection from their running backs and fullbacks to force the defensive line away from the quarterback.
Paul Gutierrez, San Francisco 49ers: This, frankly, is where the 49ers should take a deep breath and swallow hard. Their offensive line was in constant flux last season -- their projected O-line of LT Joe Staley, LG Mike Iupati, C Daniel Kilgore, RG Alex Boone and RT Anthony Davis played together a grand total of one-plus quarter last season. And now, Iupati is gone, Kilgore is returning from a broken ankle and Boone and Davis chose to stay away from voluntary OTAs. Oh, and the 52 sacks the Niners allowed last season were the most they've given up since 2008. The Rams sacked 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick eight times last year in a 13-10 St. Louis victory in Santa Clara. Consider: 39 of the Rams' 40 sacks last season came in their final 11 games. So, yeah, there's some reason for concern in Santa Clara. A lot of concern. Here's hoping that the year-old Twitter beef between Chris Long and Anthony Davis gets settled on the field this season, rather than in cyberspace, what with the two never facing off in 2014.
Terry Blount, Seattle Seahawks: The problems of that matchup are one of the big reasons the Seahawks have struggled at times against the Rams recently. In the past two seasons, Russell Wilson has been sacked 17 times in four games against St. Louis. Now the Seahawks enter this season, including the season opener at St. Louis, with two new starters on the offensive line. The probable backups are rookies. And they aren't likely to get much help from the tight end spot. Jimmy Graham is a giant upgrade in the passing game, but he's not going to help much with the Rams' edge rushers. The St. Louis defensive front is the one area that has given the Seahawks fits and the biggest reason they have a chance at an upset in the first game of the year, if the new guys up front for the Seahawks aren't ready to go.