NFL: Peeking in on and Predicting the NFC West
The regular season is finally here! This particular off-season has been ultra-dramatic it seems, and that’s not counting the newest diva on the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders. There was a lot of teams that seemed to make leaps forward while others suddenly took leaps back due to unforeseen injuries and retirements. The NFC West had a little bit of both in the offseason, from the Arizona Cardinals drafting Murray to the sudden retirement of Seattle Seahawks star Doug Baldwin. Now is the time to take a realistic look at this division before the start of the regular season.
First Place: Los Angeles Rams (10-6)
As it turns out, everyone in America ended up scoring as many touchdowns in the Super Bowl as the Los Angeles Rams this past season. Relax, just a little bit of a jab before I get into it, don’t get your panties in a wad. This off-season the Rams lost a couple of pieces in Rodger Saffold and Ndamukong Suh but picked up some new faces in Clay Matthews and Eric Weddle.
In addition to Rodger Saffold and Suh, the Rams lost a few key members of last years dominant defense that held the high flying Patriots offense to only thirteen points in the Super Bowl. The losses on the defense will mean some teams will be able to put up more points on the Rams which will play a factor in close games. We all know the NFC West has some close divisional games. As is they are still the most elite team in the NFC West, and their offense will propel them to ten wins and they’ll most likely only end up losing one game at maximum to teams in their division.
Second Place: Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
This off-season General Manager Steve Keim absolutely cleaned house for last years NFC West cellar dwellers. He ended up getting a new coaching staff and a lot of new faces. Last season they played vanilla football led by a coach who was so stuck in his ways defensively that it eventually was his downfall. Pair that head coach with an offensive coordinator who is still stuck in the 60s with playcalling and that spells disaster on a national stage.
This season there is a lot of mystique with the Cardinals that will play to their advantage against division opponents. Draft experts ranked Kyler Murray a generational talent and he is already ahead of most rookie quarterbacks due to the college esque offense that head coach Kliff Kingsbury is going to run. The catch with this team is there is a lot of new faces and a lot of young faces. One thing that will be on the Cardinals side this year is the element of surprise combined with what coach Kingsbury calls an “illusion of complexity”. They will probably start off well since there is a lot of new. Nonetheless, teams will adapt and that is something the Cardinals are going to have to watch out for this season.
Third Place: Seattle Seahawks (7-9)
This offseason Seattle officially locked up their man in Russell Wilson to a large contract in practically the dead of night. The one bad thing about the size of the contract is, that leaves less money for building. It’s clear that Russell Wilson is an absolute beast. Especially in the NFC West. Although he is not going to be able to do it all by himself. Last season the Seahawks went 10-6 and they ended up losing key pieces on both sides of the ball such as Doug Baldwin and Bruce Irvin. They ended up snagging DK Metcalf in the draft that looked like a promising prospect. However, he is going to end up missing some time with his injury.
Fourth Place: San Francisco 49ers (6-10)
Let’s not forget the NFC West version of the team of the bay. Last season the 49ers suffered a huge loss early on in the year that really hurt their season. Jimmy Garoppolo was looking to be the savior of this franchise his first year there by rattling off six straight wins. Then he ended up going down with a torn ACL in Kansas City spelling absolute jeopardy for the 49ers. Sure they had some bright spots, but this teams success is going to lay solely on Jimmy G.
The thing that a lot of people fail to realize is, he has been out for quite a while, so it may take him a little while to not just completely get back to 100% from injury but also to get back to 100% mentally. Things like the speed of the game and taking hints can take some time to get back to. Chances are the first couple games the Niners are going to want to go easy on him, making this a rebuilding year for San Francisco.
How do you see the NFC West playing out? Would you move any of these teams? Leave a comment below.
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