After getting some "meat and potatoes" analysis this morning, lets take a more light-hearted look at this Sundays' match-up between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. The name of this game pretty much explains it all, we'll take a look at each position group and decide which we'd rather have or which group is better. For the sake of discussion and/or argument you can base your opinion on a groups' ability to be better in the future or you can choose to focus on their ability, or lack thereof, to help a team win right now. Also when your making your picks, remember to consider the group as a whole and not just the starters. So with all that being said, here's my picks:
Quarterbacks: This one is pretty easy because I'd take Warner and Leinart before I took a Niners' quarterback. Who really knows if JT O'Sullivan can play but we'll find out soon enough. I tend to think that he's just in the right place at the right time but he'll still probably put up decent numbers in the Mike Martz system, heck everyone else does. As for Alex Smith, I actually think he's gotten a bad wrap considering he's had to learn a new offense nearly every season. We saw how hard that was for Leinart last season and Smith has had it even worse. All that being said, Warner and Leinart are still the best two quarterbacks on both teams.
Running Backs: The Niners have the edge (yea small play on words) here considering that when Gore is healthy he's one of the better backs in the league and he's still just 25 years old. He disappointed in 2007, but he didn't get much help from the rest of the offense. His help out the backfield this season will come from DeShaun Foster and Micheal Robinson. Foster's a fumbler but I think he'll have some success as a backup and Robinson's a decent #3 option. I'd take Edge and Hightower after Gore but the gap between Gore and Edge is too wide to take the Cardinals backfield.
Tight Ends: Talk about a tough decision here. On one hand you've got a young kid (24 years old) with all the physical skills in the world but he's yet to put those skills to much use on the football field. Vernon Davis' two year totals of 72 receptions and 774 yards (10.8 ypc) and seven touchdowns are pretty disappointing considering he was a top 10 pick two years ago. Behind him there's not much considering that Delanie Walker and Billy Bajema are both young but unaccomplished (28 career receptions combined). As for the Cardinals, I think they've got two guys who are capable of being productive starters and a third option who would be the Niners' #2 TE. For that reason I'll take the Cardinals tight ends based on the group as whole.
Wide Receivers: No contest here considering that Fitz and Q are several tiers above anyone that the Niners can run out there. If you take the top two receivers on both teams out of the mix and just look at depth, it's a better debate but I'd still take the Cardinals. Breaston, Urban and Doucet rank a tick higher than Battle, Morgan and Hill in my book.
Offensive Line: This might be the first real debatable position group and I'd imagine that both teams would say that their group is the better of the two. Since I'm a Cardinals fan though, I'd take the Cardinals group because they're younger (average starting age 25.8 vs. 27.4) and they gave up far fewer sacks (24 vs. 55). Niners fans would probably say that they're depth is better considering that they've got two promising rookies in Chilo Rachal and Cody Wallace. Both units are at least average for this league and I think both offensive lines can be productive but I'm still taking the Cardinals.
Take a look at the defense after the jump.....
Defensive Line: When the Cardinals are healthy, this should be a no-brainer although the Niners did pull a bit closer by adding Justin Smith. I'd still take Dockett, Watson and Antonio Smith over any of the Niners' starting three and the Cardinals depth pushes the gap even wider. The Niners drafted a young (21) Kentwan Balmer in the first round of the draft this year but he's been less impressive than either Calais Campbell or Kenny Iwebema. Throw in Branch and old man Bryan Robinson and the Cardinals should be a clear cut winner.
Line Backers: This is another tough pick for me but I think it's got a lot to do with my 'man-crush' on Patrick Willis. I'd take him over Dansby and I think that Manny Lawson has a decent chance to become a good player on the outside. Outside of those two though, I think the Cardinals have the advantage at the other two linebacker spots and they have much better depth. I think that Hayes would start opposite of Willis, if he was in SF and I'd bet than any one of Okeafor, Haggans or LaBoy would start opposite of Lawson. Although the Niners have the best overall linebacker, I've got to take the Cardinals because the group is better as a whole.
Cornerbacks: The Niners spent quite a bit of cash on the cornerback position last year and they got questionable production from the group. Nate Clements is certainly the best corner on either team and Walt Harris is probably still a better player than Eric Green at this point, even though he's 34 years old. Shawntae Spencer is a decent #3 corner and can be a decent fill in starter when needed. The Cardinals will probably have a better group next season once DRC has his feet wet and Green and Hood have another season of experience, but if I'm going with a group to win a game today, I'm taking the Niners' corners.
Safeties: While these two groups are close, I think that Wilson and Rolle would be starters for the Niners. Michael Lewis and Adrian Wilson is a good debate but in my mind, A-dub is slightly more dynamic. Rolle has zero experience at safety so it's hard to take him over Mark Roman (85 career starts), but Roman is productive without being special. The Cardinals depth puts them over the top considering that several guys got starting time and invaluable experience last season when Wilson went down.
Special Teams: This is a no-contest win for Niners. Joe Nedney and Andy Lee blow the combo of Neil Rackers and Dirk Johnson out of the water and far outweigh the step down from Steve Breaston to Allen Rossum. If the Cardinals had the Niners' specialists in 2007, they'd have been a playoff team.
So there's my take. Obviously I might be a bit of homer considering that I took the Cardinals in nearly every position group but I think I could have made a legitimate case for every group except running back and special teams. I'm sure that a 49ers fan would have a much different view but that's why we're here right? So let me know what you think? Agree/Disagree? Does this man that the Cardinals are a much better team or are the two teams much closer as a whole?