When we think of the NFC West, we think of the Joe Montana/Steve Young led teams, who won 5 Super Bowls in the mid 1980s and 1990s. But since 2004, The Seattle Seahawks have won 8 divisional titles, appeared in 3 Super Bowls and won 1. This division should be one of the most competitive in all of football.
NFC West Preview:
Los Angeles Rams (2017 record, 11-5): Prediction, 13-3.
Last season, rookie coach Sean McVay, changed this franchise identity, work ethic and their core beliefs. The Rams went from being one of the worst offenses in the NFL to leading the league in total points (478). Jared Goff threw for over 3800 yards and had 28 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Running back, Todd Gurley had over 2,000 total combined yards and 13 touchdowns. Their wide receivers will get a huge boots. The Rams added Brandin Cooks from the Patriots. Over the past 20 years, Cooks is one of three receivers in NFL history to record three seasons with 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns before turning 25. Odell Beckham Jr. and Randy Moss are the other two. Cooks and his ability go get deep will help Cooper Kupp who had 868 receiving yards.
On defense the Rams added three pro-bowl players. . Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib were added via trade, and Ndamukong Suh was signed to a one-year deal. Under defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips should have the leagues best defense. They should be among the league leaders in sacks, turnovers, and points against.
The sky is the limit for the Rams. They are talented on offensive and defense and they should make it to the NFC Championship. Anything else should be considered a failure.
San Francisco 49ers (2017 record, 6-10): Prediction, 10-6.
The 49ers started the season 1-10 last year before quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo moved into the starting lineup. The 49ers won 5 straight games and went from scoring 17 points per game to 28.8 with Garoppolo under center. They rewarded their quarterback with a five-year, $137.5 million contract. The man who is affectionately called “Jimmy GQ” is now the franchise quarterback. Former Viking running back, Jerick McKinnon signed a four-year free-agent contract that’s worth up to $36.9 million. McKinnon is only 5’9 and 210lbs but the coaching staff believes he can be their every down back. Marquise Goodwin is one of the fastest players in the NFL. He caught 56 balls last year and averaged over 17 yards per catch.
On defense, the 49ers should be better. They added Richard Sherman to their roster. If healthy, Sherman brings veteran leadership and can still be a play-maker on defense. Former Oregon
Ducks standout DeForest Buckner is entering his 3rd season in the NFL. He is 6’7, 290lbs. Last season he combined for over 60 tackles. I expect him to have a break out year and be an elite defensive lineman.
San Francisco is improving. They are still a year or two away from being a a legitimate threat. If they can make the playoffs this year, they could be an attractive landing spot for free agents next off-season. “In Jimmy We Trust”
Seattle Seahawks (2017 record, 9-7): Prediction 8-8.
This is a team that has been on the decline over the past few year.
2014 record: 12-4.
2015 record: 10-6.
2016 record: 10-5-1.
2017 record: 9-7.
Russell Wilson continues to be the most underrated and under appreciated quarterback in the NFL. Last season, he become the first NFL quarterback in 27 seasons to lead his team in rushing (since Randall Cunningham did it in Philadelphia) by finishing with 586 yards. Wilson does it all for his team on offense. He led the NFL with 33 touchdown passes in 2017. He also threw for over 3900 yards. Doug Baldwin continues to be the number 1 wide receiver on the Seahawks roster. He has 77 receptions last season and 8 touchdowns.
On defense this team took a huge step back last season. They gave up 332 points, it was the most they have given up in 7 season. Earl Thomas is the only real hold over from what was once a championship defense.
This team is on the decline, that is the bad news. The Good news is, as long as Wilson is under center he will give them the best chance to win.
The Seahawks don’t have enough talent to make the playoffs. I expect them to part ways with Pete Carroll at the end of the season. It has been a great run in Seattle but it is over.
Arizona Cardinals (2017 record, 8-8): Prediction 6-10.
Rookie head coach Steve Wilks takes over the reigns in Arizona. It is going to be a struggle to say the least.
The Cardinals have three quarterbacks on their roster
Sam Bradford, Mike Glennon and the rookie from UCLA Josh Rosen. The Rams, 49ers and Seahawks have 3 quarterbacks in Goff, Garoppolo and Wilson who could all put up 40 touchdown passes in 2018. I would be shocked if the Arizona quarterbacks put up 30 touchdown passes combined. Running back David Johnson is coming off an injury, but when healthy he can rush for over 1500 yards. Wide Reciever, Larry Fitzgerald caught 109 passes last year. He is 34-years-old and still hasn’t slowed down.
On defense, the Cardinals, joined the Broncos and Ravens as the only defense to finish with a top-10 ranking in each of the past three years. Patrick Peterson continues to be one of the best secondary players in the NFL.
This team should play well on defense but does anyone have faith in their quarterbacks? Bradford and Glennon are journeymen quarterbacks who never stay healthy. I expect Rosen to start by week 8.
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