NFL: NFC West Team Previews and Predictions
Today we finish up the NFC Divisional Previews as we head west. The Seattle Seahawks have had a solid grip on this division for a few years now. Despite the Arizona Cardinals giving them a couple scares, the Seahawks always seem to come out on top. With 2 teams in the division rebuilding, in the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams, this is a 2 team race. Is it finally the Cardinals year? For the answer to that question, let’s get to the NFC West Divisional Predictions.
The Cardinals have all the pieces they need to be a top tier offense. They have David Johnson as the workhorse back, an all-time great at WR in Larry Fitzgerald, and a lot of speed with JJ Nelson and John Brown. However, despite all those names I previously mentioned, the key to their success will depend on the decision of their QB Carson Palmer. While he has been good for about 80% of the time, Palmer always seems to have his worst games, at the worst possible times.
Not only are the Cardinals talented on offense, but they also are very athletic on defense. Chandler Jones is a big-time pass rusher and Patrick Peterson is arguably the best CB in the league. Throw in a possible dynamic duo at Safety in Tyrann Mathieu and Budda Baker and this team appear to have everything they need to make a Super Bowl run. Things have not gone according to plan with this Arizona team, you have to wonder when their window will close.
Record Last Year 7-8-1
Vegas Win Line 8.5
My Prediction 8-8
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are actually starting to get some semblance of an offense. Jared Goff still has a lot to prove, but Sammy Watkins is a legitimate #1 type WR when healthy. They have a stud RB in Todd Gurley, even though he looked far from being one last year. The drafting of Cooper Kupp and Gerald Everett help to give the Rams their best group of targets since the Mike Martz days. This group obviously doesn’t have that much talent, but they are 10 times better than what they trotted out on the field last year.
First and foremost, the Rams must get Aaron Donald into camp. Donald is the best interior lineman in the sport and with you have him with Michael Brocker, Robert Quinn, and Connor Barwin all on the field at the same time, you have something going on the pass rushing side. Trumaine Johnson also provides them with good CB play in the secondary. They are much more set on the defensive side of the ball rather than the offensive side.
Record Last Year 4-12
Vegas Win Line 5.5
My Prediction 5-11
There was a big loss to the Seahawks offense this past week. Their LT George Fant went down with a torn ACL and he will miss the entire season. It’s a big hit to a team that needed an offensive lineman before this week even started. Russell Wilson always finds a way to get the job done, but he’s going to take a beating trying to do it this year. They went out to sign Eddie Lacy to upgrade their RB position, but tough to run if the line can’t open any holes.
With all due respect, this is not the same dominant defense that went to the Superbowl a few years ago. The Legion of Boom defense still has 3 members but they are not as disruptive as they’ve previously been. There are rumors that this will be CB Richard Sherman’s last year on the team and their star Safety, Earl Thomas considered retirement during the offseason. I talked about the Cardinals window to win earlier, the Seahawks window could be down to 1 more year.
Record Last Year 10-5-1
Vegas Win Line 10.5
My Prediction 10-6
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are in complete rebuild mode. They really don’t have too many pieces that they can build around on their offensive side of the ball. This is going to be a very bad year for them and it will look very ugly at times on offense. Brian Hoyer is not a bad QB and he’s perfect for a placeholder. The problem is, he’s the placeholder, but the 49ers don’t have a person that he’s holding the place for.
While the 49ers seem pretty bare on offense, the defense is a different story. Their 1st round pick, Solomon Thomas looks like he could be a cornerstone on their D-Line. Rueben Foster looks like he is the next in line of the great 49er LBs as Patrick Willis is retired and Navorro Bowman appears to be on his way out. Jimmie Ward and Eric Reid give them solid coverage at Safety. You can at least see the greener grass for the defense.
Record Last Year 2-14
Vegas Win Line 4.5
My Prediction 4-12
This will be an interesting division to see where the teams end up. The Rams and 49ers are very hard to predict wins for because they have young talent, but that’s the problem, they’re too young. The Seahawks and Cardinals both have a lot of aging players and may not be at the top of the division in the next 2 years. Both have windows that can be getting slammed shut very soon. Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald look like they will be retiring in the offseason. I mentioned the issues with the Seahawks. This year you can predict a winner, after that, it’s a toss-up, enjoy the games.